The Historian - Online Course Pack – Outlier Linguistics

Learn about Early China—and read the classics!

Two full-length university-level courses for a comprehensive understanding of the classical period of China

Learn to read Classical Chinese literature, and about the history and archeology of Early China through the Han Dynasty. This is the period of Confucius, Laozi, and the Hundred Schools of Thought, when the civilization we call "China" first took shape.

A comprehensive introduction to the history, culture, philosophy, and archeology of the Classical period of China—if you want to understand Early China (and thus the roots of modern China), this is your starting point!

Each course is equivalent to a semester-length university course. But unlike a university course, you can go at your own pace! You get lifetime access for a single one-time purchase—no subscriptions!

Each course includes over 48 hours of video lessons and Q&A sessions, plus you get access to regular live Q&As so you can ask any questions you may have.

Equivalent to 2 university courses, just $598!

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Rated 4.8/5 by 1000's of Chinese learners


The Early China Scholar Course Pack: Get BOTH Classical Chinese courses and the Early China History course!

Just $897!


The Classical Chinese Course Pack: Get both Classical Chinese courses

Just $598!

Student Testimonials


Netherlands (living in NZ)

Taiwan (living in Australia)

USA (living in China)

USA (living in Finland)


Introduction to Classical Chinese

A 16-week guided introduction to reading Classical Chinese. Intended for those with knowledge of at least a few hundred Chinese characters (in either modern Chinese or Japanese), following Michael Fuller's Introduction to Literary Chinese.

This course is self-paced, and includes regular live Q&A sessions. By the end, you'll have a solid grasp of the fundamentals of reading classical Chinese, and will be able to read basic texts yourself (and know which resources to use if you get stuck).

Early China: History, Culture, and Archeology

In this online course, you'll learn about the history and culture of early China, and about recent archeological discoveries that are re-shaping our understanding of the period:

• The Neolithic Origins of Chinese culture
• The (mythical?) Xia dynasty
• The Shang and their oracle bones
• The Western Zhou period and their bronzes
• The Spring & Autumn period and the decline of the Zhou
• The Warring States period and the hundred schools of thought
• The earliest empires: the Qin and Han

This live course starts February 7, 2023. Sign up now so you don't miss it!

Intro to Classical Chinese

    1. Unit I: Basic Grammar
    2. Lesson 1: Nominal and Verbal Sentences (論語・困學)
      Lesson 2: Parts of Speech (韓非子・宋國富人)
      Lesson 3: Coordinate Verbs (韓非子・守株待兔)
      Lesson 4: The Modifier 所 and Nominalized Verbs (呂氏春秋・刻舟求劍)
      Lesson 5: Negatives (韓非子・矛盾)
      Lesson 6: Pivot Verbs, Auxiliary Verbs, and Classical Commentary (列子・楊布)
      Lesson 7: Coverbs (戰國策・狐假虎威)
      Lesson 8: Embedded Sentences (孟子・揠苗)
  2. Unit II: Intermediate Texts
  3. Lesson 9: 說苑・晉平公問於師曠
    Lesson 10: 新序・兩頭蛇
    Lesson 11: 戰國策・曾參殺人
    Lesson 12: 說苑・趙簡子問子貢
    Lesson 13: 戰國策・趙簡子舉兵攻齊
    Lesson 14: 莊子・鵷鶵
    Lesson 15: 莊子・曳尾於塗中
    Lesson 16: 史記・石奢

Early China: History, Culture, and Archeology

                  1. Unit I: Pre-History and Origins
                  2. Lesson 1: Time, Space, and Language
                      Archeology topic: What is Archeology?
                    Lesson 2: Neolithic Origins
                      Archeology topic: Yaoshan 瑤山 (Liangzhu 良渚 culture)
                    Lesson 3: The (mythical?) Xia Dynasty
                      Archeology topic: Erlitou 二里頭
                    Lesson 4: The Shang and their culture
                      Primary Source Reading: Oracle Bone Inscriptions
                      Archeology topic: Yinxu 殷墟 and Bronzes
                2. Unit II: The Classical Period
                3. Lesson 5: The Western Zhou
                    Primary Source Reading: Bronze Inscriptions
                    Archeology topic: Western Zhou Bronzes
                  Lesson 6: The Spring & Autumn
                    Primary Source Reading: Records of The Grand Historian 《史記》 (excerpts)
                    Archeology topic: The Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng 曾侯乙墓
                  Lesson 7: The Warring States
                    Primary Source Reading: Strategies of the Warring States 《戰國策》 (excerpts)
                    Archeology topic: Guodian 郭店
                  Lesson 8: The Hundred Schools of Thought
                    Primary Source Reading: The Analects 《論語》and Daodejing 《道德經》 (excerpts)
                    Archeology topic: The Shanghai Museum Bamboo Strip Texts 上海博物館藏戰國楚竹書

                  2. Unit III: The Early Empires
                  3. Lesson 9: Qin and the Beginning of Empire
                      Primary Source Reading: Hanfeizi 《韓非子》 (excerpts)
                      Archeology topic: Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum 秦始皇帝陵, Shuihudi 睡虎地秦簡
                    Lesson 10: The Chu-Han Contention
                      Primary Source Reading: “The Battle at Gaixia” 《史記・項羽本紀》
                      Archeology topic: Mawangdui 馬王堆
                    Lesson 11: The Western Han
                      Primary Source Reading: Huainanzi 《淮南子》 (excerpts)
                      Archeology topic: The Han Tomb at Mancheng 滿城漢墓
                    Lesson 12: The Eastern Han
                      Primary Source Reading: The Book of the Later Han 《後漢書》 (excerpts)
                      Archeology topic: The Wuliang Shrine 武梁祠

Your Instructor

John Renfroe
Co-founder, Outlier Linguistics

Before co-founding Outlier, John studied Linguistics and Paleography in the Graduate Institute of Chinese at National Taiwan Normal University. He co-founded and later ran the Taipei Classical Chinese Reading Group, a weekly reading group consisting mostly of graduate Sinology students from western universities. He also taught classical Chinese to members of the group who had no previous instruction in the language. His coursework and research focused on excavated Warring States bamboo texts, historical Chinese character morphology, and the Shuowen Jiezi 說文解字 and its commentaries and criticism.

Equivalent to a yearlong university course, just $598!

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Rated 4.8/5 by 1000's of Chinese learners