The goal of this "visual sourcebook" is to add to the material teachers can use to help their students understand Chinese history, culture, and society. It was not designed to stand alone; we assume that teachers who use it will also assign a textbook with basic information about Chinese history.
Several pedagogical concerns shaped the design of this website. Although some topics (e.g. philosophy, religion, social distinctions, historiography) are best taught through written texts, many facets of Chinese civilization are more easily conveyed through images (material culture, technology, visual and performing arts, and so on). We have therefore not attempted to illustrate all the major themes of a course on China. Moreover, rather than give a few pictures of many topics, as illustrated histories often do, we have instead prepared substantial units on ten important subject areas spanning the length of Chinese history: geography, archaeology, religion, calligraphy, military technology, painting, homes, gardens, clothing, and the graphic arts. Students should be able to view these units before coming to class, much as they would read texts in a sourcebook of primary sources . This out-of-class preparation can provide the basis for classroom discussion, on-line discussion, or written assignments. To facilitate such discussion and analysis, we have included questions designed to make students think about the images they are viewing. To help keep the chronology and geography straight, we have included many maps and a timeline.