The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of History Department of History
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HIST7100 Reading Seminar: Study of Archives and Folk Documents
(For Ph.D. students only)

Semester 1 (2020-2021)

Lecture TimeWednesday 2:30pm-4:15pm


Lecturer CHOI Chi Cheung ((852) 3943 7127 /

Course Description

This seminar examines Chinese archives and local documents from the Ming-Qing period to the present. We will analyze and critically discuss meanings and usage of source materials such as imperial edicts, proclamations, business contracts, genealogies, inscriptions, family accounts and correspondences. This seminar is divided into three cycles according to students’ own research themes and needs. The first cycle will discuss students’ research frameworks, geographical settings as well as archives and documents that are fundamental to individual research. The second cycle will investigate special type of documents (i.e.: genealogy, inscriptions, Taoist texts, vernacular literature) and discuss how they are read in the context of a particular social environment. The third cycle, using an integrated approach, will connect source materials with particular research area (i.e.: a rural community, a business firm).

To be able to read these texts, written in classical or vernacular Chinese, students wishing to enroll in this seminar are required to have high level of competency in both written and spoken Chinese. All students are required to (1) write a research proposal, (2) prepare reading and annotated notes and (3) present and read first hand source materials for each cycle.

Students are expected to prepare and read documents before attending class.

Students enroll in the seminar are expected to submit their initial PhD or MPhil thesis topic and proposal to the instructor two days prior to the first class (September 7, 2020).


(Tentative Schedule)

Week 1: General introduction (research proposal due 17:00, Sept. 7)

Weeks 2-5 (reading documents submitted every Sunday @ or before 23:59)
Cycle 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, 1-4

Weeks 6-9 (reading documents submitted every Sunday @ or before 23:59)
Cycle 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, 2-4

Weeks 10-13 (reading documents submitted every Sunday @ or before 23:59)
Cycle 3-1, 3-2, 3-3, 3-4

Assessment & Assignments
Research Proposal 10%
Weekly reading performance 20%
Weekly documents and archives collection and analysis 50%
End-of-Term Presentation    20%
Total 100%

Topics and readings for 2020-21:

Documents and archives relating to participant students’ dissertation

Readings: (individual readings list, to be confirmed)

Honesty in Academic Work

Attention is drawn to University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and to the disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations. Details may be found at

With each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of these policies, regulations, guidelines and procedures.

  • In the case of group projects, all members of the group should be asked to sign the declaration, each of whom is responsible and liable to disciplinary actions, irrespective of whether he/she has signed the declaration and whether he/she has contributed, directly or indirectly, to the problematic contents.
  • For assignments in the form of a computer-generated document that is principally text-based and submitted via VeriGuide, the statement, in the form of a receipt, will be issued by the system upon students’ uploading of the soft copy of the assignment.

Assignments without the properly signed declaration will not be graded by teachers.

Only the final version of the assignment should be submitted via VeriGuide.

The submission of a piece of work, or a part of a piece of work, for more than one purpose (e.g. to satisfy the requirements in two different courses) without declaration to this effect shall be regarded as having committed undeclared multiple submissions. It is common and acceptable to reuse a turn of phrase or a sentence or two from one’s own work; but wholesale reuse is problematic. In any case, agreement from the course teacher(s) concerned should be obtained prior to the submission of the piece of work.

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