Education About Asia: Online Archives

Sources of Chinese Tradition

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Back in the waning days of the late modern era (viz., the 1950s), a group of Asianists at Columbia University, led by Theodore de Bary, established basic paradigms for two generations of secondary and postsecondary teachers and their students: they compiled an “Introduction to Oriental Civilizations” consisting of “sourcebooks” on India, China, and Japan.1 For those students, myself included, the nature and contents of “Chinese Tradition” were defined largely by this work’s original 1960 edition. College teachers accepted it as the definitive anthology of texts that embody the “civilization” of premodern and modern China.2