General Requirements

Your reading response should be 750-1000 words, double-spaced, 12-point font, and follow Chicago or MLA citation styles: see citation guides on the Brightspace page for this course (but where citation information is missing, e.g., in some of the assigned readings, please list as much information as is provided: e.g., author, title, page number). A hard copy is to be submitted by the deadline (see syllabus), and a digital copy to the assignment dropbox corresponding to the reading response on Brightspace (see the ‘Assignments’ module on the ‘Contents’ page). Please submit your digital copy in pdf, Word, or other standard format (but not ‘Pages’, which Brightspace cannot process properly). Assignments will receive a deduction if they are only submitted online; they will not be graded if only the hard copy is submitted.

I will be checking assignments for plagiarism using Urkund, an anti-plagiarism tool. You can choose an alternative method if you wish: please see ‘Academic Integrity’ in the syllabus for more details.


Each response should discuss a reading(s) of your choice assigned for each section (please let me know if you are unsure about your selected reading to discuss). Please ensure that your reading responses cover readings from the correct section. You may wish to discuss more than one short reading (e.g., the two short pieces by Zhu Xi), or select only a portion of a longer reading (e.g., certain selections from the Buddhist readings or from Sources of East Asian Tradition), if you find that you are interested in a particular theme discussed in the selected sources.

The reading response will consist of two main sections: a summary of the major points or highlights of the selected reading; and your critical reaction to the reading. Thus, you are advised not to summarise all aspects of a reading, but rather to address key points/highlights which you wish to discuss: again, please see me if you’re unsure about what aspects you want to address. Also, you should state at the outset of your reading response what text(s) you are discussing, and what you are focusing upon. A concise statement of this nature will serve as an introduction, as the reading responses are short. A concluding statement will also serve as a conclusion.

Topics: The lectures should give you ideas for possible topics for your reading responses, such as rituals in one of the Confucian texts, Mencius on compassion, suffering in Buddhist thought, Jesuit accommodation, Montesquieu on Chinese despotism, the Gandhi-Tagore debate, etc. You can draw in a general fashion on ideas discussed in lectures, but your response should discuss the readings in your own words—so your response should not need to cite class lectures (except in cases, e.g., where you disagree with a lecturer’s interpretation!). If you’re not sure, just ask me.

The summary section should discuss the key points related to your topic as they are explicated

in the reading. How does the reading discuss the concepts in question? Are they defined, or exemplified, or illustrated in certain unique ways? How is the treatment of the key points different from a rival school of thought, or from a different interpretation? The summary section should show that you have thought through a reading from the author’s perspective.

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