Provider: HarvardX @EdX [course page]
Lecturers: Peter K. Bol and William C. Kirby + others
Subject: Humanities / History
Delivery: self-paced asynchronous study
Recommended Load: 2-4 hrs/week over 4 weeks
Completion Date: 07/16/2014
Description: This third part of the ChinaX series discusses the arts developed in China around the Tang Dynasty and how this influenced other cultures. This course covers Poetry, Calligraphy and Story-telling in the context of the part each played in Tang society and vice versa.
Strengths: Many of us have likely seen calligraphy and poetry offered as mood for various films and documentaries set in Asia. This course not only goes into detail on the structure and form of poetry and calligraphy, but it discusses the story-telling established during this period by looking into a single notable work. As mentioned earlier, these were placed into a social context, each playing an unique role in Chinese society. There is also a commercial value for such things, with varying forms of paper, brushes and inks leading to the sale of various goods and services, such as ink grinding.
Weaknesses: No free cake.
Conclusion: This course offers a logical and chronological progression of Chinese history following from the period discussed in the second part of the series. I found the material on poetry, calligraphy and story-telling of real value as I now have more of an understanding of what it meant to have been a poet, calligrapher and story-teller during the period. It follows logically from the previous instalments that dealt with religion and philosophy, offering students a rounded view of the various elements that have shaped China, Asia and beyond.
I continue to enjoy the series and highly recommend it to anyone with either curiosity about China and Asia, and/or those researching the area for something they’re working on.