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Understanding Imperial China: Dynasties, Life, and Culture

Narrated by: The Great Courses
Length: 12 hrs and 27 mins
Categories: History, World
4.5 out of 5 stars (25 ratings)

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Summary

A knowledge of China's imperial history is vital for any understanding of its present, as modern China is linked in many ways to the extraordinary culture of its empire. These 24 lectures take you to the heart of life during China's imperial era, through the lives of individual subjects of all social ranks. Across the arc of the course, you'll witness what daily life was like for government bureaucrats, for scholars, for women of the court, for soldiers, merchants, craftspeople, courtesans, imperial cooks, and many others - all against the backdrop of the diversity, the genius, and the majesty of imperial China.

You'll hear about such memorable sights as the grand boulevards; splendorous palaces; imposing temples of Chang'an, the medieval world's greatest city; and the Qingming Shanghetu, a 17-foot painted scroll that gloriously portrays Song Dynasty life. And you'll meet unforgettable human beings, whose lives vividly reveal the world around them, such as Ban Zhao, Han-era woman of letters, poet, scholar, and teacher; Tao Yuanming, Daoist luminary and the empire's first great poet; Zhu Yuanzhang, powerful warlord and founder of the Ming Dynasty; and Hong Xiuquan, visionary reformer and architect of the religiously inspired Taiping Rebellion.

Understanding Imperial China: Dynasties, Life, and Culture is your passport to this incredible, historic world.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2017 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2017 The Great Courses

What members say

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    4 out of 5 stars

Great content, average delivery

There's a lot of knowledge packed into this course and I learned a lot. Many events and details were missed, but the history of China is a dense topic and a single series of lectures can't be expected to touch on everything! So overall, I was impressed by the content.
I can't give five stars because the lecturer's Chinese pronunciation wasn't very accurate, and at times I couldn't really understand the Chinese despite being able to speak the language myself. If the Chinese had been clearer, it would have been a little easier to follow up on the names mentioned and do further research. Nevertheless, the content itself is fantastic and I'd certainly recommend the book for anyone interested in the history of China and wanting to expand their knowledge.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Nice broad sweep of Chinese History

For those looking for a good way into Chinese history but aren't just looking for the conventional narrative, this is a great way in. Blends in a mix of conceptual issues and draws some nice comparisons points in an accessible manner. Nicely seperated into half hour blocks.

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  • victorluis
  • 06-12-17

Imperial China: very well done!

To any person interested in China, this is an enjoyable course. Very clear, well structured and well presented. The professor knows and knows how to teach. I recommend it!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Deeparnak B.
  • 29-08-18

A comprehensive insight

History is more often than not, story of the dead. But in this course we get to look at things from the perspective of the people living at those times - Right from the sculptors of the first emperor's terracotta warriors to the little girl whose feet was bound as a submission to society's obscure perception of beauty; From the Ming dynasty soldiers who rebuilt and patrolled the Great Wall, to the fatherless boy, Temüjin, who went on to be the founder of the largest land empire in all of history; From the celebrated courtesans who entertained the educated elites, to the wannabe elites preparing for the prestigious Imperial civil service exams.

Imperial China was one of the most populous, influential and powerful state in the world for almost two millenia. And to be able to look at the history of this great empire unravel right from the eye of its protagonists was an wonderful experience.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • P. Davis-Muffett
  • 08-04-19

Good, US bent

The scholarship is sound for the most part but the professor perhaps tries too hard to relate Ancient Chinese forms of gov’t and experience to modern US ones.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • susan
  • 25-05-18

Clear and entertaining history

I knew very little about Chinese history, and Prof. Wilson provided a clear and entertaining introduction. I like his emphasis on the lives of common people. He doesn't get bogged down in dates and wars as some historians do. Instead he presents an overview by general subjects that also has vivid details. He puts events in political and geographic context. Makes me want to learn more about China, and even take a trip to see some of the areas he mentions. Highly recommended!

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  • Huldren
  • 26-12-17

Wonderful for academics and lay persons alike

This is a great overview of the history of China. Professor Andrew R. Wilson is a very knowledgable and engaging lecturer. I recommend this course for anyone with an interest in China.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • James Staples
  • 07-10-17

Highly recommended!

This course was both engaging and informative. As a high school history teacher I appreciated the professor's approach to the subject and his obvious enthusiasm. I only wish there had been more lectures in the course!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • B. C. Moleman
  • 12-11-19

Great stuff

Fascinating insight into another time and place. Describes the era and its culture in vivid detail. Only minor complaint is I could do without the Navy disclaimer at the end of every lecture.

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  • As
  • 09-07-19

Great job, mislabeled chapters

The actual lectures are great. Some of the lectures are out of order to the chapter headings.

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  • Eddy Wong
  • 13-05-19

Right from the first lecture I was totally hooked!

The lecturer has the ability to captivate my attention. Right from the start I was able to vividly visualize being in the time and places he disgus to us.

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  • Martin
  • 16-04-19

Great perspective on today's China

Easy to listen and understand. This provided me a great perspective on today's China and international issues the world faces today.