History 484 (201) East Asian Military Systems and Warfare China




Course Level





Confucian societies are often thought of as ones in which the brush is mightier than the sword. In fact the military has been a crucial factor in East Asia, and warfare was the engine that drove many of the most significant changes in East Asian history. This course will look at the evolution of military systems in China, and examine the impact of recurrent warfare on this ancient civilization. Topics will include: the role of warfare in the creation of the early imperial state; philosophical approaches to warfare and the efficacy of violence; the ideas of Sun Zi and the bingjia; the cultural and political power struggle between wen and wu; responses to the Inner Asian menace; reasons for the absence of a Chinese “military revolution” in the early modern period; China’s response to the intrusion of the West in the 19th century; and continuities in Chinese military thinking in the 20th and 21st centuries.