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Aims and Objectives

Principal Module Aims

This module aims to understand China through the written legacy of those who visited China and saw it through the lens of their own cultural background, as well as the legacy of those who travelled from China and saw the world through the lens of their Chinese experiences. This will introduce students not only to the history of China, but also to the study of travel literature, and to the idea of the lens that shapes what we see and what we observe. The history of China is now a strong feature of our undergraduate curriculum, with optional modules in year 1, year 2, and year 3, and this module builds on those modules by offering a different perspective on its history. This module will also offer an opportunity to see China through the lens of travel literature across major changes of the empire, covering as it does the longue duree from a famous medieval travel record of a Chinese monk who went to India to later nineteenth- and early twentieth-century accounts, when the first students went abroad from China.

Learning Outcomes
  • to become familiar with the history of China through the analysis of first hand accounts of China.
  • to understand the genre of travel literature and evaluate its value as a historical source.
  • to be able to recognize the importance of perspective in travel literature (and its similarity to other sources.
  • to work with primary sources to develop a better understanding of specific themes (gender, science and technology, etc).