Color photo of Professor Don Wyatt, Ph.D.
Office
Axinn Center 343
Tel
(802) 443-5548
Email
wyatt@middlebury.edu
Office Hours
Fall 2022: Wednesdays 10:30AM to Noon, Thursdays 4:00-5:00 PM, and by appointment.
Additional Programs
History

Don Wyatt (A.B. Beloit; A.M., Ph.D. Harvard) has taught at Middlebury College since 1986. Most of his courses are cross-listed with Philosophy. He specializes in the intellectual history of China, with research most currently focused on the intersections of identity and violence and the nexuses of ethnicity and slavery. He is the author of The Blacks of Premodern China, the past editor of the Journal of Song-Yuan Studies, and the former concurrent president of its Society for Song, Yuan, and Conquest Dynasties Studies. During successive sabbaticals in 2004 and 2010, he was in residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Among his most recent publications are chapter essays in the medieval volumes of both the Cambridge World History of Violence and the Cambridge World History of Slavery as well as in Slavery and Bonded Labor in Asia, 1250-1900. Articles have recently appeared the Journal of Religion and Violence and in Mediaevalia as well as in Itinerario and China and Asia: A Journal in Historical Studies. His latest books are the Cambridge Element in the Global Middle Ages series, Slavery in East Asia, and the shortly forthcoming, Song China and the World. He is co-executive editor of the Journal of the History of Ideas, chair of the newly established Diversity and Equity Committee of the Association for Asian Studies, and a mentor of early career award recipients for the Luce/ACLS China Studies Mentoring Project.

Courses Taught

Course Description

The True Believer
When he published The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, social thinker Eric Hoffer sought to explain exactly what inspires people to commit themselves passionately to causes defined by their unyielding belief. Like Hoffer, we will examine not only what has motivated individuals over time to join extremist social, political, and religious movements, but also the psychologies of those who have led them throughout history. We will try to determine precisely who the true believer is, and whether true belief is generally of greater benefit or harm to the believer and to broader society.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CMP, CW, PHL

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Course Description

Imperial China
China’s is the world’s oldest continuous civilization, and we will survey the history of the Chinese empire from its cultural beginnings until the conflicts with the West in the 1840s and the internal unrest of the 1850s and 1860s. Our study of China’s political progression through successive dynasties will reveal archetypal patterns of historical disruption amidst continuity. We will also examine those perennial social, institutional, and intellectual forces — such as the stratification of the classes, the absolutist tendencies of monarchy, and the civilly-focused yet competitive atmosphere fostered by a state-sponsored examination culture — that proved determinative in shaping China’s traditional development. Pre-1800 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

Requirements

HIS, NOA, SOC

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Course Description

Chinese Philosophy
A survey of the dominant philosophies of China, beginning with the establishment of the earliest intellectual orientations, moving to the emergence of the competing schools of the fifth century B.C., and concluding with the modern adoption and adaptation of Marxist thought. Early native alternatives to Confucian philosophy (such as Mohism, Daoism, and Legalism) and later foreign ones (such as Buddhism and Marxism) will be stressed. We will scrutinize individual thinkers with reference to their philosophical contributions and assess the implications of their ideas with reference to their historical contexts and comparative significance. Pre-1800. 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Fall 2020

Requirements

AAL, HIS, NOA, PHL

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Course Description

Confucius and Confucianism
Perhaps no individual has left his mark more completely and enduringly upon an entire civilization than Confucius (551-479 B.C.) has upon that of China. Moreover, the influence of Confucius has spread well beyond China to become entrenched in the cultural traditions of neighboring Japan and Korea and elsewhere. This course examines who Confucius was, what he originally intended, and how the more important of his disciples have continued to reinterpret his original vision and direct it toward different ends. Pre-1800. (formerly HIST/PHIL 0273) 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

Requirements

HIS, NOA, PHL

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Course Description

Readings in the Philosophy of History
Even before the appearance of Georg W. F. Hegel's classic study The Philosophy of History, a heated debate was being waged concerning the nature and substance of history. Is history, like science, expressible in predictable patterns or subject to irrevocable laws? What factors distinguish true history from the mere random succession of events? What should we assume to be the fundamental nature of historical truth, and are we to determine it objectively or subjectively? Is it possible to be human and yet be somehow "outside of" history? These are among the questions we will examine as we read and deliberate on a variety of philosophies of history, while concentrating on the most influential versions developed by Hegel and Karl Marx. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020, Spring 2023

Requirements

EUR, HIS, PHL

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Course Description

Readings in Chinese History: China's Historical Minorities
China is often reflexively visualized as an ethnically homogeneous nation-state. However, this conception fails to account for the minority populations that have for centuries resided in China and contributed greatly to its socio-cultural identity. Throughout the imperial age, the four groups called Manchu, Mongol, Hui, and Tibetan surpassed all other non-Chinese ethnicities in influencing the direction of Chinese history and shaping the contours of China's developmental experience. In this reading seminar we will examine the imprint of the collective legacy of these particular minorities as well as those of certain related groups, such as the ancestors of the Uyghurs of modern Xinjiang. Pre-1800 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020

Requirements

AAL, HIS, NOA, SOC

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Course Description

Special research projects may only be taken during the Junior or Senior year, preferable after taking HIST 0600. Approval of department chair and project advisor is required.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

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Course Description

Writing History
In this course students discuss historical methods and writing strategies to create convincing historical narratives. With the approval and guidance of the professor, students complete a 20-25-page research paper based on primary and secondary sources. Students take this course in the fall of their junior year or with permission in the spring. If students are away for the entire junior year, they can take the course in the fall of their senior year. 3 hr. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

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Course Description

Senior Independent Study I
The optional History Senior Thesis is written over two terms, with the final grade applying to both terms. Approval is required. Students submit thesis proposals in the spring before the year that they choose to write their thesis. Students generally begin their thesis in the fall and complete it during winter or spring. Approval is required to begin the thesis in winter or spring. All students must attend the Thesis Writer's Workshops in fall and winter semesters and work with a faculty advisor to complete a 55-70 page paper. Please see detailed guidelines under history requirements.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

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Course Description

Senior Independent Study II
With departmental approval, senior history majors may write a two-term thesis under an advisor in the area of their choosing. The final grade is applied to both terms. Students must submit thesis proposals in the spring before the academic year that they choose to write their thesis. They must attend the Thesis Writers' Workshops held in the fall and winter of the academic year in which they begin the thesis. The department encourages students to write theses during the fall (0700) and winter terms (0701), but with the permission of the chair, fall/spring and winter/spring theses are also acceptable. Under exceptional circumstances, the department may approve a thesis initiated in the spring of an academic year and finished in the fall of the following year. Further information about the thesis is available from the department.

Terms Taught

Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023, Spring 2024

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Course Description

East Asian Studies Senior Thesis
(Approval Required)

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

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Course Description

Global Security Studies Senior Thesis
(Approval Only)

Terms Taught

Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2024

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Course Description

Research in Philosophy
Supervised independent research in philosophy. (Approval required).

Terms Taught

Winter 2020, Winter 2021, Winter 2022, Winter 2023

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Academic Degrees

Ph.D., Harvard University, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, 1984.
A.M., Harvard University, Regional Studies-East Asia, 1978.
A.B., Beloit College, Religious Studies, 1975 (Phi Beta Kappa).

Publications

Books
Slavery in East Asia. Elements in the Global Middle Ages. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2022. [Official publication date: 5 December 2022]

The Blacks of Premodern China. Encounters with Asia. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010. [Official publication date: 30 October 2009]

Battlefronts Real and Imagined: War, Border, and Identity in the Chinese Middle Period [edited]. The New Middle Ages. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Political Frontiers, Ethnic Boundaries, and Human Geographies in Chinese History [co-edited with Nicola Di Cosmo]. London: RoutledgeCurzon, Taylor & Francis Books, 2003; paperback 2010.

The Recluse of Loyang: Shao Yung and the Moral Evolution of Early Sung Thought. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1996.
Sung Dynasty Uses of the I Ching [co-authored with Kidder Smith, Jr., Peter K. Bol, and Joseph A. Adler]. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990.

Chapters/Sections
“Slavery and Human Trafficking in Pre-Modern Eastern Asia.” In A Cultural History of Slavery and Human Trafficking in the Pre-Modern Era (500-1450), ed. Angela Zhang. A Cultural History of Slavery and Human Trafficking. London; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, forthcoming 2023.

“Slavery and the Mongol Empire.” In Slavery and Bonded Labor in Asia, 1250-1900, ed. Richard B. Allen. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2022.
“Slavery in Medieval China.” In The Cambridge World History of Slavery, Volume 2: The Medieval Period, AD 500-AD 1420, ed. Craig Perry, David Eltis, Stanley L. Engerman, and David Richardson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021.

“Conspirators in Violence: Disorder, the Imperial State, and Its Armies in Medieval China.” In The Cambridge World History of Violence, Volume 2: The Medieval Era, AD 500-AD 1500, ed. Matthew S. Gordon, Richard W. Kaeuper, and Harriet Zurndorfer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020.

“Zhu Xi and Pre-Qin Confucianism” and “Zhu Xi and the Han-Tang Confucians.” In Dao Companion to Zhu Xi’s Philosophy, ed. Kai-chiu Ng and Yong Huang. Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy. Volume 13. Dordrecht, The Netherlands; New York: Springer Academic Publishers, 2020.

“Cargoes Human and Otherwise: Chinese Commerce in East African Goods During the Middle Period.” In Early Global Interconnectivity Across the Indian Ocean World, Volume I: Commercial
Structures and Exchanges, ed. Angela Schottenhammer. New York; London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.

“The Image of the Black in Chinese Art.” In The Image of the Black in African and Asian Art, ed. David Bindman, Suzanne Preston Blier, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. with Karen C. C. Dalton. Cambridge, MA; London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press/Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, 2017.

“A Certain Whiteness of Being: Chinese Perceptions of Self by the Beginning of European Contact.” In Race and Racism in Modern East Asia: Western and Eastern Constructions, ed. Rotem Kowner and Walter Demel. Modern East Asia in a Global Historical Perspective. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2013; paperback 2014.

“Confucian Ethical Action and the Boundaries of Peace and War.” In the Blackwell Companion to Religion and Violence, ed. Andrew R. Murphy. Blackwell Companions to Religion. Malden, MA; Oxford; West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, Blackwell Publishing, 2011. [ebook edition—Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2011.]

“Shao Yong’s Numerological-Cosmological System.” In Dao Companion to Neo-Confucian Philosophy, ed. John Makeham. Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy. Volume 1. Dordrecht, The Netherlands; New York: Springer Academic Publishers, 2010.

“Unsung Men of War: Acculturated Embodiments of the Martial Ethos in the Song Dynasty.” In Military Culture in Imperial China, ed. Nicola Di Cosmo. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.

“In Pursuit of the Great Peace: Wang Dan and the Early Song Evasion of the ‘Just War’ Doctrine.” In Battlefronts Real and Imagined: War, Border, and Identity in the Chinese Middle Period, ed. Don J. Wyatt. The New Middle Ages. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

“The Invention of the Northern Song.” In Political Frontiers, Ethnic Boundaries, and Human Geographies in Chinese History, ed. Nicola Di Cosmo and Don J. Wyatt. London: RoutledgeCurzon, Taylor & Francis Books, 2003.

“Bonds of Certain Consequence: The Personal Responses to Concubinage of Wang Anshi and Sima Guang.” In Presence and Presentation: Women in the Chinese Literati Tradition, ed. Sherry J. Mou. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999.

“A Language of Continuity in Confucian Thought.” In Ideas Across Cultures: Essays on Chinese Thought in Honor of Benjamin I. Schwartz, ed. Paul A. Cohen and Merle Goldman. Cambridge, MA: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University Press, 1990.