Week 5 (Feb 14, 16):

Tuesday Education, Examination, and the Ruling Elite

Study Guide:

Starting this week, we explore a different aspect of the Tang-Song transition. We look at changes in the pattern of political participation and the character and makeup of the dominant ruling elite.

  • Read Dieter Kuhn’s “Education and Examination” for an overview of the civil service examination system and education in the Song dynasty. Be prepared to give a short description of the examination system in class. What did it test? What opportunities did it provide, and what challenges did it pose? Who do you think most likely benefited from the examination system, and whose interests were hurt by it?
  • Read Chaffee’s “The Geography of Success“. What patterns has Chaffee discovered in the examination success during the Song period? How would you account for them?


Thursday The Changing Geography of Power

  • Learning Objectives:
    • Explain the social and political consequences of the Tang-Song transition
    • Use modularized queries in CBDB, project them in ArcGIS, and interpret the maps
  • Readings:

Study Guide:

Today we look more closely at how the character and makeup of China’s ruling elite changed from the Tang to the Song. Read the assigned book chapters and consider:

  • What changes between the Tang and the Song have Tackett’s and Chen’s research revealed? What is the significance of these changes?

One of the goals of this course is to learn to do research: that is, learn to ask questions and find answers to the questions you ask. By now, you have acquired some basic knowledge of Chinese history and mastered some basic digital skills to start your own research project. Next week you will start working on your first project! While reading the assigned chapters, please evaluate them critically:

  • What questions do these authors ask? What approaches do they employ in their research? What data do they use, and how do they analyze their data?
  • What limits do these research chapters have? Moving forward, what questions can I ask? Each of you must prepare two well-considered research questions and be prepared to share and discuss in class. This is brainstorming for your first project.


End-of-Week Assignment:

Download the file “CBDB POSTINGS-NATIVEPLACES 1070-1127Prefects.xlsx from Moodle. The file contains two data sheets: Prefects1070-1095_UniquePerIDXY and Prefects1096-1127_UniquePerIDXY. They report the native places of Song-dynasty prefects who were in office between 1070 and 1095 and between 1096 and 1127 respectively.

Jingya, Favour, and Chris work on the 1096-1127 datasheet, and Jake and Hunter work on the 1070-1095 datasheet. This assignment is not group work. You may consult and help each other, but each of you is expected to produce your own map and write your own essay.

1. Create a map showing the native places of prefects who were in office in 1070-1095 or 1096-1127 (depending on which group you are assigned to). Follow the steps below:

  • Use “Add XY Data…” to map your datasheet in ArcGIS. Export it to a shapefile or a geodatabase feature class (either will do).
  • Download v5_CHGIS_1080_chin_chn_1080_p (prefectural boundaries in 1080) and use “Add Data” to create a layer of 1080 prefectures.
  • Join the two layers. This creates a new layer. Click yes when asked whether you want to add the new layer into your map.
  • In the new layer, color the prefectural polygons differently according to the number of prefects who hailed from each prefecture.
  • After you finish, share your map as a map package. (If you don’t remember, here is the tutorial on how to create a map package: How to Create a Map Package). 
  • Also export your map into a image file (*.svg, *.png, *.jpg, *.bmp, *.gif, *.tiff — any of these formats will do). Save your file on your computer. You will embed your image file in your essay.

2. Look at the pattern of where the prefects in 1070-1095 / 1096-1127 were from. Write one or two short paragraphs discussing the pattern with reference to Tackett’s and Song Chen’s research on the ruling elite, assigned for Thursday class. Embed your image file in the essay.

N.B.: You may create more maps, if necessary. For example, a map showing the number of prefects from each prefecture, normalized by the area of the prefecture. But this is not required.

3. Submission. After you finish, you will need to submit two files:

Submit your essay to Week 5: The Ruling Elite in the Song Dynasty (Essay)Assignment, and submit your map package file to Week 5: The Ruling Elite of the Song Dynasty (Map Package)Assignment

For the correct map package for this week’s assignment, click here.