Michael E. Lestz

Associate Professor of History

Gary Reger

Affiliated Faculty


The Silk Road stimulated and connected the growth of cities between China and Europe as trading posts and resting places. These mostly overland cities or towns created long-distance connections between national and local histories, cultures, religions, and ethnic groups across borders. While some of these past connections have been eroded by shifted political boundaries, a number of Chinese Silk Road cities have resurged in growth and influence due to the favorable policies under China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative (see map). Adopting an interlinked historical and contemporary approach, this course will investigate the original status and subsequent change of these historic cities through classical and contemporary readings and local field studies of the built environment and other evidence. Through a cultural lens, the course will introduce film as a learning medium for enhancing the benefits from text reading, discourse analysis, and on-site visits. By integrating historical and cultural perspectives in multiple local settings, this course aims to provide students with a broad but grounded understanding of the diverse intersections between the past, present, and future of several distinctive Silk Road cities in China.

Launch Course