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Course Review: SW12.5x China Part 5

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Provider: Harvard at EdX [course page]
Lecturer: Peter K. Bol, William C. Kirby + others
Subject: Humanities / History + Warfare + Politics + Education
Delivery: self-paced asynchronous study
Recommended Load: 2-4 hrs/week over 3 weeks
Completion Date: 09/05/2014

Description: Part 5 of the ChinaX mini-MOOC series discusses the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty as well as the Ming Dynasty that followed.

Strengths: Many of you have likely heard about Genghis Khan (born: Temujin) but know little of the specifics. This course teaches us a little of his background, his empire and its eventual fall. We also get a snapshot of what Europe and Asia was like during this period, as well as how close the Yuan Empire was to taking over the world.
The course then moves to the changes brought about in the Ming Dynasty in light of the previous invader dynasty. It is a curious time period that gives us a clear understanding that our efforts to hold to tradition can often create more problems. That being said, the Ming Dynasty did some amazing things.

Weaknesses: It doesn’t romanticise the barbarism of the Mongolian Empire as many attempts at the retelling often do. We also see the folly of believing that tradition can save a nation.

A Ming Dynasty print drawing of Confucius on h...

A Ming Dynasty print drawing of Confucius on his way to the Zhou Dynasty capital of Luoyang. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Conclusion: I didn’t know much about Chingis Khan going into this instalment of the mini-MOOC series, but I came out of the course with a clearer understanding of its policies as well as the political situation in Europe, Asia and the Middle East during this period. I also learned about the Ming Dynasty, a dynasty that I had previously been familiar with only through artefacts from the time period. I recommend this course with anyone with an interest in Asia and/or the Mongolian Empire.


Author: keikomushi

Reader, Writer, New Media Buff, Anime Fangirl, Gnome Hunter, Last Action Femme Fatale, Appreciator of Nature, Jack-of-all-trades.

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