G385 Modern China
Diana Lin

Spring 2013

Office: Hawthorn Hall 206A
(O)219 980 6981
Web page: http://www.iun.edu/~hisdcl
Email: dchenlin@iun.edu
Office hours: MW 9:00-10am, 1-2:15pm or by appointment

Bibliography for outside reading

Purpose of Course

This course is a survey of modern China, from around 1840 to 1949. While its very definition is a product of colonialism, modern China developed with a distinct blend of traditional and modern Western elements. The readings primarily deal with four important themes in modern Chinese history, gender, education, commerce, and politics. Additional lectures provide perspectives on the Chinese countryside and the origins of the contemporary regime in historical perspective. This course provides a good starting point for understanding many of the changes taking place in China today.

G200 serves as a 200 level Asian history course for the history major or a 200 level Asian history elective for the non-history major.

G385 meets the requirements for:

Goals of the course include:

Learning Materials Available via Oncourse:


The following two books are required readings available at the IUN campus Barnes and Noble bookstore.

Cheng, Pei-kai. The Search for Modern China: A Documentary History. Norton, 1999.

Spence, Jonathan. The Search for Modern China. Norton, 1991.

Other required readings are JSTOR articles available from Oncourse under Resources.  Off-campus access requires your IUN email account.

Course Requirements

I. Two take-home papers, each 8-10 pages, typed, double spaced, and a paper proposal for the second paper.  The papers need citations. 

The first paper is a built-in topic that expects you to use the required readings plus one outside reading for each paper. 

The second paper is a research paper that relies more on outside sources. You will need to find a second paper topic on your own, based on themes covered in class. You are required to discuss your prospective paper topic with me no later than the 14th week.  The paper proposal counts as part of the final grade.Weekly writing assignments.

II. There is usually an essay question for the reading assignment for each class session. These essay questions are to be posted on Oncourse Forums. They are due before class, for instance, the question for Aug.29 is due by Wednesday Aug.29 by the time of class.

III. Class attendance and participation.

All homework and correspondence with the instructor are to be conducted via Oncourse. However, if you have questions about Oncourse, you can email me at my regular email address at dchenlin@iun.edu until the problems are resolved. Correspondence through Oncourse guarantees your homework will be securely transmitted and preserved. Consequently, I expect you to check your Oncourse email also for any course announcements and correspondence from me and possibly other classmates.

Method of grading: all grades are assigned in percentages, which will be tabulated at the end of the semester and converted to letter grades. The averages of your take-home papers and of your weekly writing assignments will be taken to represent the grades for your take-home paper and weekly writing assignment. The conversion is as follows: 93-100: A; 90-93: A-; 85-89.9: B+; 80-84.9: B; 75-79.9: B-; 70-74.9: C+; 65-69.9: C; 60-64.9: C-; 55-59.9: D+; 50-54.9: D; 45-49.9: D-; 44 and below: F.

The grade distribution is as follows: 

Useful links:

A Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilizations
People`s Daily.

yahoo`s China site
Collection of photographs of Madame Soong Mei-ling
China and Europe, 1500-2000 and beyond.
MIT Visualizing Cultures
John Thompson's Images of China 1873-4

Website with Chinese maps: http://www.chinapage.com/map/map.html; Imperialism in China

Class schedule

Week 1 (Jan.7-13)

Jan.7 Introduction.  Notes Background reading: Spence, chap.1 or part I.

Jan.9 China in the Qing Dynasty. Spence, chaps.2-5. Cheng, pp.58-81. Notes.

Forum essay #1: How did the Emperor Kangxi in the Qing Dynasty run his government? How does that differ from how you think government should be run?

Week 2 (Jan.14-20)

Jan.14 China's relationship with the West in the 18th century. Spence, chap.6. Cheng, chap.6. Online reading: Rise and Fall of the Canton Trade System I. Rise and Fall of the Canton Trade System II. Rise and Fall of the Canton Trade System III. Rise and Fall of the Canton Trade System IV. Notes.

Forum essay #2: Based on emperor Qianlong's two letters to King George, what was China’s attitude toward relations with other countries during the 18th-19th centuries?

Jan.16 Chinese society and educational system: Benjamin Elman, "Political, Social and Cultural Reproduction via Civil Service Examinations in Late Imperial China" (under Oncourse week 3 module). Notes.

Forum essay #3: How did the imperial examination system sustain the imperial social and political structures in pre-1905 China?

Week 3 (Jan.21-27)

Jan.21 Martin Luther King's Day observed. No class.

Jan.23 The Opium War. Spence, chap.7. Cheng, chap.7. Online reading: The First Opium War. Images of Treaty Ports. Notes.

Forum essay #4: How did Britain and China go to war over opium?

Week 4 (Jan.28-Feb.3)

Jan.28. Introduction of new ideas: religion. Spence, chap.8. Cheng, chap.8. Notes.

Forum essay #5: Give examples of how Liang Fa (Cheng, 8.2) and the Taipings (Cheng, 8.4 & 8.5) approached and interpreted Christianity.

Jan.30 The Qing Dynasty in reform. Spence, chap.9. Cheng, chap.9. Discussion of "essential" and "peripheral" cultures--the beginning of cultural borrowing. Notes.

Forum essay #6: Describe some characteristics of the approaches to reform by intellectual reformers (Yan Fu and Feng Guifen, and Liang Qichao and Sun Yatsen), and reform-minded government officials (Zhang Zhidong, Zen Guofan, Prince Gong).

Week 5 (Feb.4-10)

Feb.4 The downfall of the Qing Dynasty. Spence, chaps.10 & 11. Cheng, chaps.10 & 11. Notes.

Forum essay #7: What were some main justifications for the 1911 revolution? Do you think the revolution was inevitable?

Feb.6 The beginning of the republic. Spence, chap.12; Cheng, chap.12. Notes.

Forum essay #8:  Describe politics in the early years of the Chinese republic: do you think the republic had a solid basis?

Week 6 (Feb.11-17)

Feb.11 China in disintegration. Edward McCord, "Cries That Shake the Earth: Military Atrocities and Popular Protests in Warlord China" (under Oncourse week 6 module). Notes.

Forum essay #9: Did Chinese politics get worse after the republican revolution? Why or why not?

Feb.13 The New Culture Movement and changes in Chinese values. Required readings: Spence, chap.13. Cheng, 13,2, 13.3, 13.4, 13.5. Note and preface, True Story of Ah Q, and New Year's Sacrifice. Notes.

Forum essay #10: What kind of changes did the Chinese try to make to their cultures? How do you explain their radicalism to tradition?

Week 7 (Feb.18-24)

Feb.18 Science as tool for national salvation. Zuoyue Wang, "Saving China Through Science" (under Oncourse week 7 module). Notes.

Forum essay #11: Do you think that, in the pursuit of science, the Chinese appropriately seized the right instrument to strengthen their nation?

Feb.20 Modern educational reform. Barry Keenan, "Educational Reform and Politics in Early Republican China" (under Oncourse week 7 module). Notes.

Forum essay #12: How would modern educational reform transform China from the social and political structures under the imperial examination system?

Week 8 (Feb.25-Mar.3) First take-home examination due via Oncourse Assignments email attachment on Sunday March 3. Paper topic: Pick your point of observation and explore one or two aspects of change in modern China. Take into consideration the following: to what extent did the change take place; how ready the Chinese society/individual were for the change, and how long lasting did the changes promise. The paper needs to be 8-10 pages, typed, double-spaced. You need to use our required readings and one external source. Citations are required in the paper, e.g. (Cheng, p.123). or link to the online articles. A bibliography is needed at the end.

Feb.25 Doing business in modern China. Wellington Chan, "Personal styles, cultural values and management: The sincere and wing on companies in Shanghai and Hong Kong 1900-41" (in Oncourse week 8 module)

Forum essay #13: How did the traditional and modern practices get blended in China's first modern department stores? What contributed to their success or failure?

Feb.27 Sports and Chinese modernity. Andrew Morris, "'To Make the Four Hundred Million Move,' The Late Qing Dynasty Origins of Modern Chinese Sport and Physical Culture." (in Oncourse week 8 module)

Forum essay #14: How did sports develop out of a blend of Chinese traditions and Western practices?

Week 9 (Mar.4-10)

Mar.4 The limits to the freedom of the new woman. Louise Edwards, "Policing the Modern Woman in Republican China" (under Oncourse week 9 module) Notes.

Forum essay #15: What were the limitations to the new woman in Chinese cities?

Mar.6 Modern political parties: the Nationalists and Communists. Spence, chap.14. Cheng, chap.14. Notes.

Forum essay #16: What made possible the development of these two political parties? Why could they not get along?

Week 10 (Mar.11-17)

Spring recess.

Week 11 (Mar.18-24)

Mar.18 The Nationalist Party and Chinese capitalists. Spence, chap.15. Parks Coble, "The Kuomintang Regime and the Shanghai Capitalists, 1927-29." (on Oncourse week 11 module)

Forum essay #17: Do you think that, as a ruling regime, the Nationalist Party's policies toward the Shanghai capitalists were good? Why or why not?

Mar.20 The rise of Chinese Communism. Robert Scalapino, Mao Zedong 1919-1921. Mao Zedong: The Early Years. Farmers and the Chinese Revolution. Cheng, 16.6 &16.7.Notes

Forum essay #18: What was Mao Zedong's background and how did he transform from a New Culture youth to a Communist?

Week 12 (Mar.25-31)

Mar.25 The fate of democratic politics in modern China. Edmund Fung, Social Democracy in China's Modern Transformation (Oncourse week 12 Module). Notes.

Forum essay #19: Do you think China could have developed into a viable democratic party system based on the Communist and Nationalist parties? Why or why not?

Mar.27 The Nationalist government and Japanese invasions. Spence, chap.16. Cheng, chaps.15 & 16 (to 16.5) Notes.

Forum essay #20:  How do you assess the effectiveness of the Nationalist administration?

Week 13 (Apr.1-7)

Apr.1 World War II in China. Spence, chap.17. Cheng, 17.1-17.6 Notes.

Forum essay #21: Why did the Nanjing Massacre take place?

Apr.3 Communists in Yanan. Spence, chap.17. Cheng, 17.7.Mao: Mao: The Tasks of the Chinese Communist Party in the Period of Resistance to Japan. Notes.

Forum essay #22: How did the Chinese Communist Party build its rationale and status during the war against Japan?

Week 14 (Apr.8-14)

Apr.8 Chinese Communist Party policies toward the U.S. Online reading: Chinese Communist Policies toward the U.S. before 1945 (in Oncourse week 14 module).

Forum essay #23: Comment on the turn of events that rendered the US and the CCP interests irreconcilable.

Apr.10 Growing popular support for the Communists: Online reading: Chinese student movements 1945-49 (in Oncourse week 14 module).

Forum essay #24: Name some major issues the students had with the Nationalists.

Online viewing: China in revolution 1911-49, part 1; China in revolution part 2; China in revolution part 3; China in revolution part 4; China in revolution part 5; China in revolution part 6; China in revolution part 7; China in revolution part 8; China in revolution part 9; China in revolution part 10.

Week 15 (Apr.15-21)

Apr.15 The last days of the Nationalist rule. Spence, chap.18. Cheng, 18.1-18.3 Notes.

Forum essay #25: Why did the Nationalist and Communist negotiations break down and the two resort to civil war again?

Apr.17 Mao's vision of the future. Cheng, 18.4-18.5. Notes.

Forum essay #26: How do you think Mao's "democratic dictatorship" compared with democracy?

Week 16 (Apr.22-28)

Apr.22 The Chinese civil war from an American perspective. John K. Fairbank, "Can We Compete in China?" "Toward a Dynamic Far Eastern Policy," and "China's Prospects and U.S. Policy." (All available in Oncourse resources)

Forum essay #27: What were Fairbank's major points? Based on what we have covered so far, did Fairbank make any sense?

Apr.24 Conclusion.

Week 17 (Apr.29-May 5)

Second paper due by email attachment through Oncourse Assignments on May 2. Second paper should be a research paper based on multiple external sources, on a topic approved of by the instructor , and be 8-10 pages, with a bibliography and citations.