Final Exam Preparation Guide

Family encouragement for test preparation in traditional China.

There will be three parts to this exam: Short answer // "Essay IDs" // Essays

Part I: Short answer (15 minutes)

This section will be very much like a quiz. It will include about 25 questions, based on the readings, including the following types:

multiple choice / T-F / fill-in-the-blank / place-in-order / locate-on-map

I will design these questions around the following names, terms, and dates:

Dates (all BC) and Eras Geography Political History
(know underscored dates precisely)

Neolithic (c. 7000 - c. 1500)
Shang Dynasty (c. 1500 - 1045)
    Late Shang (era of oracle texts) (c. 1500 - 1045)
Western Zhou (1045-771)
Qin Dynasty (221-208)
Han founding, 202
Reign of Wu-di (141-87)

Yellow River
Yangzi River
Great City Shang (Xiaotun site, near Anyang)
Wei River Valley (site of Zhou Homeland)
Zong-Zhou (Western Zhou capital)
Cheng-Zhou (Eastern Zhou capital, near Loyang)
Xianyang (Qin capital, in Wei River Valley)
Great Wall
Chang'an (Han capital, near Xianyang)

Zhou conquest of Shang by King Wu (1045)
Bureaucratic autocracy
First Emperor
Li Si
Zhao Gao
Chen She
Xiang Yu
Liu Bang (Gao-di)
Han feudatories
Empress Lü
Zhang Qian
Intellectual History Social History Other
Qin Legalism
Five forces
“Monthly Ordinances” (chapters of Almanac of Lord Lü)
Shusun Tong
Five Classics
     Spring and Autumn Annals
Dong Zhongshu
Sima Qian
Sui Meng
Earliest writing (on oracle bones, c. 1250)
Diviners (Shang)
fang (non-Shang states)
The Multitudes (Shang)
"Qin Revolution"
Qin law codes
Government monopolies

Neolithic Cultures
Oracle bones
Sexagenary calendar system
Bronze vessel inscriptions
tao-tie motif and bronze decor
fengshan sacrifice

Part II: "Essay IDs" (45 minutes)

Five of the following will appear on the exam; you'll need to answer three (3).  For each item, you'll be asked to write a paragraph that identifies the item, and indicates what role it played in early Chinese history. Successful answers will not only provide basic information about the person, group, practice, and so forth, but also will indicate the social, intellectual, or political context that makes the item significant for the study of China.  A sample answer (for a Classical era term, not related to the final exam topics) follows the list.

Duke of Zhou             Longshan Culture               Di                             Fu Hao

Li Si                            Xiang Yu                             Wen-di                     Fangshi

Dong Zhongshu         Xiongnu                               Huang-Lao              Five Forces         

Example answer using a Classical era term: "Jixia Academy." 

The Jixia Academy was located at the capital of the state of Qi during the 4th-3rd centuries BC. Qi rulers invited persuaders and thinkers of all sorts to the academy, and supported these men and their students. The academy is the most developed example of rulers patronizing "wise men" to enhance their stature, a trend that began during the 5th century and was the basis of the "persuader" tradition. It is likely that the Tian clan initiated this policy in Qi to gain legitimacy after usurping the ducal throne. The clustering of thinkers at Jixia produced rapid growth in philosophical thinking, and many Confucian, Daoist, and other schools' teachings were elaborated there. The philosophical approach of Naturalism is closely associated with Jixia, particularly as it is seen in the thought of the Jixia master Zou Yan. 

    -- The sample answer is successful because it provides the basic ID information, and then goes on to discuss the historical significance of the item.  It is not an exhaustive account (for example, the possible influence of fangshi traditions on Jixia thought is not mentioned, nor is Xunzi's role as senior Jixia master and Confucian opponent of Naturalism), but the headline items are noted in an answer that could be written in 15 minutes.

Part III: Short Essays (60 minutes)

Three of the following question will appear on the final exam test sheet; you'll need to answer two (2), one of which will be indicated as a required choice. The most closely relevant sections of the course readings are indicated after each question, but for some issues you'll need to engage broader familiarity with course materials, and you should feel free to draw on information more widely, including any information you have derived from work on your journals or papers.


What features of Shang society do we see emerge during the Neolithic period, on the basis of archaeological evidence? (especially, Reading 3.7)

What sorts of evidence about the Shang do the oracle texts provide and what aspects of Shang history and society are not revealed? (esp. Readings 3.3, 3.4, 3.5 3.8)


The Qin imperial government is often called "Legalistic"; to what degree does that term validly apply? (esp. Readings 1.10, 4.1, 4.2, 4.9)

Note at least five major facets of the "Qin Revolution"; which two seem to you to have been most important to the shaping of the Han state, and why? (esp. Readings 4.1, 4.4)


How did the early Han approach to feudalism resemble or differ from the Qin's, and how did it change over the course of the second century B.C.? (esp. Readings 4.1, 4.4)

Would you call Wu-di a Legalist or Confucian ruler? Why is this a tricky question? (esp. Reading 4.8)

What are the essential features of "Confucianism" and how does the nature of Confucianism's role in early China change over time? (esp. Readings 1.9, 2.6, 2.9, 4.9)