HISTART 385-001

Human Rights in China from Classical Times through the 18th Century: A Historical and Cultural Survey

180 Tappan
TTh 1:00-2:30pm
3 Credit Lecture
Cross listed with ASIAN 393-001

Professionals in the humanities, law, business, government, and the social sciences frequently need to assess current human rights practices in China as well as possibilities for the future of human rights there, but this requires understanding how questions of law, justice, equality, and open speech were framed, conceived, and contested in Chinese history. This course spans two millennia of visual and textual material with the aim of introducing students to the images, the topics, and the terms that dominated debates over human rights issues in classical, medieval, and late imperial China. Both readings and lectures make extensive use of visual documents (paintings and artifacts) as well as key passages from watershed historical documents.

The course begins with a consideration of recent debates over the universality of human rights. The bulk of the course is devoted to case studies of key moments in the development of human rights debates over Personhood, Equality, Justice, and Freedom of Speech in China. We shall read some of the key arguments from the classical, medieval, and early modern periods, and consider as well the institutionalization of these concepts in political structures and artistic practice. The course culminates in a special section on debates over human rights during the Enlightenment.

HISTART Categories for concentration distributions: 3. Early Modern, C. Asia