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Module Reading List

Foundations of East Asia, 2021/22, Semester 1, 2
Leah Wang
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue

General Histories of East Asia, its Regions and Countries


Ebrey, Patricia Buckley, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China, 2nd edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010)

Mote, Frederick W., Imperial China 900-1800 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2003). This is detailed, but it gives a good account of the non-Han Chinese empires based to the north of the Chinese hinterland, as will as the ethnically Chinese ones.

Hansen, Valerie, The Open Empire: a History of China to 18002nd edn. (New York: W W Norton, 2015). This places special emphasis on the interrelations between the Chinese and their ethnically different neighbours. The first edition is also all right, though it covers a slightly shorter time period.

de Bary, Wm Theodore, Richard Lufrano and Irene Bloom, ed., Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol. 1, From Earliest Times to 1660, 2nd edn. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000). These and the other 'Sources of...' books below are mainly translations of primary texts (original documents) linked by contextual explanations.

de Bary, Wm Theodore, Richard Lufrano and Richard Lufrano, eds. Sources of Chinese Tradition,Vol. 2, From 1600 through the Twentieth Century, 2nd edn. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000)


Hane, Mikiso, Premodern Japan: a Historical Survey (Boulder: Westview, 1991)

Totman, Conrad D., A History of Japan (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), or 2nd edition (2005).

de Bary, Wm Theodore et al., ed., Sources of Japanese Tradition, Vol. 1: From Earliest Times to 1600, 2nd edn (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.

de Bary, Wm Theodore, Carol Gluck and Arthur Tiedemann, ed., Sources of Japanese Tradition, Vol. 2, 1600-2000, 2nd edn. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006).


Seth, Michael J. A Concise History of Premodern Korea: From Antiquity through the Nineteenth Century, 2nd edn (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).

Hwang, Kyung Moon, A History of Korea: An Episodic Narrative (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)

Lee, Peter H and Wm. Theodore de Bary, ed., Sources of Korean Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000)

Other parts of East Asia

Baker, Christopher and Pasuk Phongpaichit, A History of Thailand, 2nd edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009)

Aung-Thwin, Michael and Maitrii Aung-Thwin, A History of Myanmar since Ancient Times: Traditions and Transformations (London: Reaktion Books, 2013).

Ricklefs, M. C., A History of Modern Indonesia since c. 1200 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001).

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Week 2: Defining East Asia

Van Schendel, Willem. 2002. “Geographies of Knowing, Geographies of Ignorance: Jumping Scale in Southeast Asia.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 20: 647-668.

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Weeks 3 & 4: The Premodern History of East Asia

There are no specific readings for this lecture, but you could read some parts of the pre-modern general histories in the General Histories section above.

Premodern History Seminar


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Week 5: Imperialism in East Asia

Perreau-Saussine, Emile, ‘Imperialism’ in Bryan Turner (ed.), The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology, Cambridge U.P., 2006, pp. 280-281.

Ferguson, Niall, 2003, Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World, London: Penguin. Introduction.

Ferguson, Niall, 2011, Civilization: The West and the Rest, London: Allen Lane. Pp 142-156.

Lockwood, W.W. 1956. Japan’s Response to the West: The Contrast with China. World Politics. 9(1), pp.37–54.

Headrick, Daniel R. (1979). ‘The Tools of Imperialism: Technology and the Expansion of European Colonial Empires in the Nineteenth Century " The Journal of Modern History51 (2): 231–263.  June 2011.

Klein, Thoralf. ‘Rethinking the Origins of ‘Western’ Imperialism in China: Global Constellations and Imperial Policies, 1790–1860.’ History Compass10.11 (2012): 789–801.

Fairbank, J. K. (1974). The Chinese world order: traditional China's foreign relations. Harvard University Press.

Fogel, J.A. 2009. Articulating the Sinosphere: Sino-Japanese Relations in Space and Time. Harvard University Press.

Gordon, A. 2003. A modern history of Japan: from Tokugawa times to the present. New York: Oxford University Press.

Larsen, K. W. (2013). Comforting fictions: The tribute system, the Westphalian order, and Sino-Korean relations. Journal of East Asian Studies, 13(2), 233-257.

Wang, Y. 2013. Explaining the Tribute System: Power, Confucianism, and War in Medieval East Asia. Journal of East Asian Studies. 13(2),pp.207–232.

Zhang, Y. (2001). System, empire and state in Chinese international relations. Review of International Studies, 27(5), 43-63.

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Week 6: The APS region in the context of early post-war diplomacy

Ampiah, Kweku, ‘Japan at the Bandung Conference: The Cat Goes to the Mice’s Convention’, Japan forum. ISSN: 0955-5803, Vol. 7, No. 1, 1995.   

Gaddis, John Lewis, The Cold War.London: Penguin, 2007

Kushner, Barak, ‘The Bandung Conference’, in Media, propaganda and politics in 20th-century Japan ISBN: 1472509560 (hardback); 9781472509567 (hardback); 9781350002005 (paperback); 1350002003 (paperback); 9781472514172 (ePDF); 9781472512260 (ePub), Tokyo: The Asahi Shimbun Group, 2015.

What constitutes ‘Japanese’ literature? Critically examining the hidden assumption of homogeneity in Japan, this lecture seeks to enrich our understanding of Japanese literature by exploring the work of minority writers.

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Week 8: The Koreas

Cumings, Bruce. (1997) Chapter 5 'Collision, 1948-1953'. Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History, New York & London: W.W. Norton& Company, pp.237-298.

Chung, Byung-Ho. (2008) “Between Defector and Migrant: Identities and Strategies of North Koreans in South Korea.” Korean Studies 32, pp.1-27.

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Week 9: Religions of East Asia

Graham, William A., “Why Study Religion in the Twenty-First Century?”  Harvard Divinity Bulletin 40: 3 & 4 (Summer/Autumn 2012).

“East Asian Religions: Confucianism, Daoism, Shinto, Buddhism,” in John L. Esposito, Darrell J. Fasching, Todd T. Lewis, Religions of Asia today, New York City: Oxford University Press, 2015, Chapter 5, pp 257-345.  

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Week 10: Premodern Chinese Literature

Chang, Kang-I Sun and Stephen Owen, The Cambridge History of Chinese Literature, Vol. 1: To 1375 and Vol. 2: From 1375 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). Clearly you are not expected to read all of this, but do have a look through it. 

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Week 14: The Inner Asia Periphery

Hillman, Ben. 2016. 'Understanding the Current Wave of Conflict and Protest in Xinjiang and Tibet'. In Ethnic Conflict and Protest in Tibet and Xinjiang, edited by David Brophy and Ben Hillman. 1-17.

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Week 15: Living and Dying in East Asia

Chan, Jenny and Ngai Pun. (2010) "Suicide as Protest for the New Generation of Chinese Migrant Workers: Foxconn, Global Capital, and the State," The Asia-Pacific Journal, 37-2-10.  Available online 

Cho (Han), Haejoang. (2017) “National Subjects, Citizens and Refugees: Thoughts on the Politics of Survival, Violence and Mourning following the Sewol Ferry Disaster in South Korea.” In New Worlds from Below: Informal Life of Politics and Grassroots Action in Twenty-first Century Northeast Asia. Edited by Tessa Morris-Suzuki and Eun Jeong Soh. Acton: ANU Press, pp.167-196.

Kim, Jieun. (2016) “Necrosociality: Isolated Death and Unclaimed Cremains in Japan,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 22 (4), pp. 1-21.

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Week 16: Gender

Koch, Gabi. (2016) “Willing Daughters: The Moral Rhetoric of Filial Sacrifice and Financial Autonomy in Tokyo’s Sex Industry,” Critical Asian Studies 48 (2), pp.215-234.

Park, So Jin. (2007) “Educational Manager Mothers: South Korea’s Neoliberal Transformation,” Korea Journal 47 (3), pp.186-213.

Yang, Jie (2011) “Nennu and Shunu: Gender, Body Politics, and the Beauty Economy in China,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 36 (2): 333-357.

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Week 17: Languages of East Asia


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Week 18: Folklore and Folklife

Bender, Mark. 2006. “Introduction” in Butterfly Mother: Miao (Hmong) Creation Epics from Guizhou, China, translated by Mark Bender, pp. xv-xxv. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.  

Yang, Lihui, et al. 2005. Handbook of Chinese Mythology. ABC CLIO.

Cheung, Sidney CH and Tan Chee-Beng, eds. 2007. Food and Foodways in Asia: Resource, Tradition, and Cooking. New York; Routledge.

Børdhahl, Vibeke, ed. 2010. The Interplay of the Oral and the Written in Chinese Popular Literature. Copenhagen, NIAS

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Week 19: Civil Society


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Week 20: Taiwan  

Wang, Li-jung, 2014. ‘Culture Difference, National Identity and Cultural Policy in Taiwan’ in Cultural Policies in East Asia : Dynamics Between the State, Arts and Creative Industries, edited by Hye-Kyung Lee and Lorraine Lim, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Cheng, Isabelle and Fell, Dafydd, 2014. ‘The Change of Ruling Parties and  Taiwan’s Claim to Multiculturalism before and after 2008’, Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 43 (3), pp.71-103.

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Week 21: Japanese Literature

Kishaba, Jun (1966) "Turtleback Tombs" in Southern Exposures: Modern Japanese Literature from Okinawa, edited by Michael Molasky and Steve Rabson, Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, pp. 113-155.    

Shima, Tsuyoshi (1973) “Bones” in Southern exposure : modern Japanese literature from Okinawa ISBN: 0824823001 (pbk. : alk. paper); 0824821696, edited by Michael Molasky and Steve Rabson, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, pp.156-170.  Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva 

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Week 22: Contemporary Chinese Literature

Yu Hua, 2003. To Live. New York: Anchor.

Yu Hua, 1996. The Past and the PunishmentsHonolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. (Choose any of the stories in this collection to read). 

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Week 23: Transnational Chinese Cinema

Farquhar, Mary, 'Zhang Yimou', Senses of Cinema, Issue 20, May 2002.  

Larson, Wendy. ‘The Fifth Generation: A Reassessment’, in Lim, Song Hwee & Ward, Julian (ed). The Chinese Cinema Book, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York: Palgrave Macmillan; London: British Film Institute, 2011, pp. 113-121

This list was last updated on 25/09/2020