Welcome to "HST137, People and their stuff in Chinese History"! My name is Tineke D'Haeseleer, and I am your instructor for this course. I have a doctorate in Chinese history from the University of Cambridge in the UK (that explains the British influence in my accent). I have taught at Muhlenberg for 3 years, but before then I had many different jobs in different countries, teaching and researching Chinese history. If you'd like to know more, you can ask me questions in the Cloud Lounge, a social website I set up just for my students this Fall semester. (I'll tell you more about it later, but you can sign up already!)
In this course you will learn all about "material culture of China", or, as it's called in the course title: stuff, and how people interacted with stuff, in China. The topics we cover include a lot of different things: some are famous, like the Great Wall; others are barely known outside China, like shadow puppets; some are obvious, like beautiful porcelain bowls, or paintings; others are maybe more surprising, like food, or books. There will be lots of choice for you to focus on different aspects of Chinese material culture, because there is more "stuff" than I can fit into a single course. At the end of the course, I hope that you will look at the world around you a bit differently, and ask questions like "how is this thing made?", "Who made this?" and "Who would have bought this, and why?", or "Why do people collect these things?". You will also know where to start looking for answers to those questions, and use them as an entry point into much more complex issues in history, such as relations between different social and economic classes, the power of money, and networks of exchange on regional and global scales.
In the next few videos I will explain more about the digital tools we use for the course, and why I chose this option; we will look at the main types of assignments; and you'll get a tour of the websites and how everything is linked together through the power of the internet. See you there!
LInk to Video 2 (transcript)