Assignments + Units
Week of 4/8
Week of 4/15
4/8 #403 Tian’anmen: Power and Protest
Unit III Assessment due
by start of class
4/15 #407 Rising Nationalism in the 1990s and 2000s
4/10 #404 Zhu Rongji: Economic reform in the 1990s
4/17 #408 Past in the Present
4/11 #405 Economic reforms: the view from below, part 1
4/18 Course Project
4/12 #406 Economic reforms: the view from below, part 2
4/19 Course Project
Unit I. Tradition in Crisis
- What is the best way for a nation to remember painful, even shameful, episodes from the past?
- How—as historians—do we make sense of “imperialism”? Is it always Western? Does it have a meaning independent of colonialism?
- How do images frame our understanding of events?
#100 Introduction to China’s Fall and Rise
#101 Introduction to Wealth and Power
#102 Qianlong and Macartney at the Apogee of Empire
#103 Confronting the Scourge of Opium
#104 Opium War in History and Memory
#105 The Torching of the Yuanmingyuan
#106 Feng Guifen: Taiping Rebellion and Self-Strengthening
#107 The Empress Dowager and the Vicissitudes of Moderate Reform
#108 The Sino-Japanese War
#109 The Boxer Uprising
Unit II. “Slaves of a Lost Country” or Masters of a New Culture?
- What separates reform from revolution and moderate politics from radicalism? Which approaches are preferable in what contexts?
- What counts as “political”? What does it mean to see culture as political?
- What kind of “truth” can literary sources provide?
#201 Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao: Confucian Radicalism
- Read Schell and Delury, 93-98.
- Read Kang Youwei on Reform (Google Doc).
- Read Contemporary Account of the Guangxu Emperor’s Reforms (Google Doc)
- What meaningful distinctions can be made between the examples of “moderate” reforms we examined earlier and these “radical” reforms?
- What events precipitated the rise and collapse of these reform efforts?
#202 Liang Qichao: From Subject to Citizen
- Read Schell and Delury, 98-116.
- What were some of the key reforms enacted by the Empress Dowager after the Boxer Uprising?
- How did Liang Qichao’s views evolve over the course of his political life? What impact do you think his travels beyond China had on this evolution?
- How did the world around him change how others saw his views?
#203 Early Twentieth Century China in Film
- No homework due.
#204 Sun Zhongshan (Sun Yat-sen): A Nation of Citizens?
- Read Schell and Delury, 117-42 (chapter 6).
- Were Sun Zhongshan’s Three People’s Principles consistent with the idea of political tutelage? Why or why not?
- What practical role did he play in the downfall of the Qing dynasty and the establishment of the Republic of China?
- Why might Sun be one of the few major political figures in modern China celebrated in both the Mainland and on Taiwan?
#205 Chen Duxiu and New Youth
- Read Schell and Delury, 144-61 (finish at the last full paragraph on page 161 that ends “Chen’s ‘personal virtue was too corrupt’.”).
#206 May Fourth and the Founding of the Communist Party
- Read Schell and Delury, 161-71 (start at the bottom of page 161 with the paragraph that begins “It was a bitter moment for Chen . . .”).
#207 Lu Xun’s Outcry
- Read Lu Xun, “Preface to Outcry” (Nahan zixu 呐喊・自序), 1923, in Lu Xun (author) and Julia Lovell (trans.), The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Tales of China: The Complete Fiction of Lu Xun (New York: Penguin, 2010), 15-20.
- Read Lu Xun, “Diary of a Madman” (Kuangren riji 狂人日记), 1918, in Lu Xun (author) and Julia Lovell (trans.), The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Tales of China: The Complete Fiction of Lu Xun (New York: Penguin, 2010), 21-31.
- As you read, consider:
- How does Lu Xun explain the purpose of his work? How does historical context inform that purpose? (Be sure to note the major events identified—explicitly or implicitly—in his “Preface.”
- What are some of the metaphors that Lu Xun uses to discuss Chinese culture, society, and politics? What are the implications of those metaphors?
- Based on these readings, would you consider Lu Xun an optimist or a pessimist? Why?
#208 Yu Dafu's "Sinking"
- Read Yu Dafu (author) and Joseph S.M. Lau (trans.), “Sinking” (Chenlun 沉沦), 1921, in Joseph S.M. Lau and Howard Goldblatt (eds.), The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Literature, 2nd ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, ), 31-55.
#209 Lao She’s Teahouse
- Read act 2 of Lao She, Teahouse (Chaguan 茶馆), 1957, in Lao She (author) and John Howard-Gibbon (trans.), Teahouse (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2004). 53-86.
- As you read, consider:
- What are some of the different philosophies and strategies employed by the characters to navigate the social changes of this period? What major groupings might you see among the characters?
- What does Teahouse tell us about life in and around Beijing in 1922?
- Why do you think Lao She wrote this play?
Unit III. War and Revolution
- If war and revolution entail the breakdown of normal order, can and should there be rules for the use of violence in these circumstances
- What ultimately motivates individuals to act? Material incentives (e.g. money, possessions, social position), or ideas (e.g. philosophy, education, belief systems, culture)? And can the answer to that question change, or it is a fixed product of “human nature”?
- How does film compare to historical scholarship, still images, and literature as a medium for conveying “truth” about the past?
#300 Introduction to War and Revolution
- No homework due
#301 Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-shek): The Generalissimo
- Read Schell and Delury, 173-96 (chapter 8).
- Why do the authors describe Jiang (Chiang) as “contradictory”?
- What were the major events that marked Jiang’s rise and fall from power?
#302 Nanjing Massacre
- Watch clip on beginning of war with Japan from China: A Century of Revolution (9 min)
- View court testimony of Rev. John G. Magee (Hotchkiss ’02) (1 min)
- Read excerpts from the diary of John Rabe (PDF)
- Optional: view film and photos from Magee from Yale University Library. Note: for the most part, these are not graphic images.
#303 Devils on the Doorstep
#304 Mao Zedong's Rise to Power
- Read Schell and Delury, 197-217.
- To what extent should historians seek to make sense of adults based on their upbringing?
- What might it mean to describe Mao’s writing as “romantic”? How might we reconcile such a description with his commitment to the supposedly “scientific” nature of Marx’s theories?
- How did Mao come to place his revolutionary hopes in China’s rural masses? How might we reconcile such a commitment with Marx’s own dismissal of the peasantry when he described them as the “homonymous magnitudes, much as potatoes in a sack form a sack of potatoes” (Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon,” 1852). What did Mao see in the peasantry? Why do you think Marx had been so quick to dismiss them as revolutionary actors?
- Since Joseph Schumpeter first coined the concept of “creative destruction” in the 1950s, it has become almost universally accepted as a model of economic transformation. What do Schell and Delury mean when they associate Mao with this concept? How might it be different than the market-oriented sense that Schumpeter introduced the term?
- What does Mao mean by “contradictions” (maodun 矛盾)? What significance does he place on the concept?
#305 Yan'an and Rectification
- Read Schell and Delury, 217-27.
- Read excerpts of documents related to rectification in Yan’an (PDF) from Wm. Theodore de Bary and Richard Lufrano, eds., Sources of Chinese Tradition, vol. II, 2nd ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), 434-35, 441-49. Documents included are Wang Shiwei, “Wild Lily”; Mao Zedong, “On Art and Literature”; Wang Shiwei, “Political Leaders, Artists”; and Ding Ling, “Thoughts on March 8, 1942.” Please note: the editors provide a short introduction before each document in very slightly smaller font.
- What does Mao Zedong believe are the essential attributes of a good revolutionary?
- Describe the tension that emerges between Mao’s arguments and those of Wang Shiwei and Ding Ling? How might you support each side with additional arguments and evidence?
#306 Land Reform and the “People’s Democratic Dictatorship”
- Read Schell and Delury, 229-36.
- Read excerpts from Ding Ling, Sun Shines over the Sanggan River (Taiyang zhao zai Sanggan he shang 太阳照在桑干河上, 1948) (PDF) in Patricia Buckley Ebrey, ed., Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook, 2nd ed. (New York: The Free Press, 1993), 416-21.
- Read excerpts from Mao Zedong, “On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship” (Lun renmin minzhu zhuanzheng 论人民民主专政, June 1949) (Google Doc).
- How do the actions that Ding Ling describes in her novel relate to the arguments that Mao lays out in his speech?
- How did land reform help forge the new “people’s republic”? What other important efforts and events contributed to the construction of the Communists’ new state?
- Once the new state had been established, in what sense could he mean “our revolutions come one after the other” (Schell and Delury, 235)? What was “permanent revolution” and what might it mean for him, his political movement, the new state, and his people?
#307 The Great Leap Famine
- Read Schell and Delury, 236-41.
- Read Clayton D. Brown, “China’s Great Leap Forward,” Education about Asia 17, no. 3 (Winter 2012): 29-34. (PDF)
#308 “Learn from Comrade Lei Feng!”
- Read “Lei Feng, Chairman Mao’s Good Fighter” (Google Doc) from Patricia Buckley Ebrey, ed., Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook, 2nd ed. (New York: The Free Press, 1993), 442-46.
- View/read “Lei Feng” on Chinese Posters (part 1, part 2, and part 3).
- Listen to “Study from Lei Feng’s Good Example!” (YouTube; 3 minutes)
- Read Andrew Jacobs, “Chinese Heroism Effort is Met with Cynicism,” The New York Times (5 March 2012). (PDF)
#309 Cultural Revolution as History: “Disorder under Heaven”
- Grace Day: No homework
#310 Cultural Revolution as Memory: Though I am Gone
- Watch Though I am Gone (Wo suiran qu 我虽然去), about one hour without opening and closing credits.
- Before you watch:
- Look up the title of the film and the director (Hu Jie 胡杰: note: the director and I share the same Chinese name. This is purely coincidental) to see what you can find out on your own about it. In particular, see if you can establish why the film might have been created. Do not spend more than 5 minutes on this step.
- As you watch, consider:
- Why do you think Red Guards conducted "house searches" (chaojia 抄家) of authority figures like Bian Zhongyun? What might they have been hoping to find?
- If you were a student at the school at the time, do you think you would have contributed to Bian Zhongyun's death? Stood by as a bystander? Or actively opposed the attack on her? Explain your answer.
- Who does Wang Gong, Bian Zhongyun's husband, blame for the death of his wife? (see 8:29 in the video). Who do you think is at fault? Why?
- How do you think Mao Zedong might have reacted if he had heard about Bian Zhongyun's death?
- Why do you think Wang Gong, Bian Zhongyun's husband, acted as he did in keeping the posters up for “evidence”? Do you think you would have done the same if a family member was killed in a similar manner? Why or why not?
- Wang Gong filed suit in court against one of the students who he believes was responsible for his wife’s death. Do you agree that the court system is an appropriate venue for seeking justice for those victimized during the Cultural Revolution? Would you recommend another path?
- Why do you think there are so many Cultural Revolution victim narratives (like this film), and so few people willing to come forward to admit their role as victimizers? What do you think has happened to the victimizers in the years since?
#311 Remembering Mao’s China: To Live
- Watch To Live (Huozhe 活着) (link to YouTube with subtitles).
#312 Unit III assessment
- Please sample at least 30 minutes of China-related podcasts from this list.
- During class we will discuss the unit III assessment, which will be due on Mon 4/8.
Unit IV. Reform and Opening
- Are ideas like freedom and democracy universal, driving aspirations? If so, does the meaning of each term remain consistent across time and place? If not, what other goals might be more important?
- In what ways is equality important? And how do much weight should human societies place on guaranteeing equal opportunities and outcomes?
- How do we know when a state is legitimate? What rights should people have to overthrow a state that is considered illegitimate? Is violence ever justified on the part of the state to maintain power?
#401 Deng Xiaoping: “Black Cat, White Cat”
- Read Schell and Delury, 259-97 (chapter 11).
#402 Deng Xiaoping: “Turmoil”
- Read Schell and Delury, 299-323 (chapter 12).
#404 Zhu Rongji: Economic reform in the 1990s
- Read Schell and Delury, 325-43.
#405 Economic reforms: the view from below, part 1
- Watch Leslie Chang, “Factory Girls,” Talks at Google (9 October 2008). 45 minutes.
#406 Economic reforms: the view from below, part 2
#407 Rising Nationalism in the 1990s and 2000s
- Read Schell and Delury, 343-52.
- Read Evan Osnos, “Angry Youth,” in The New Yorker (July 2008). (PDF).
- Is rising nationalism compatible with Deng Xiaoping’s vision of “reform and opening”? Why or why not?
- Reflect on how the youth activism in the 1990s and 2000s was like—and unlike—that of the late 1980s? What about the late 1960s and late 1910s?
- Considering an even longer historical frame, how useful is it to think about these movements in the context of the “century of humiliation” set off by the Opium Wars?
#408 Past in the Present
- Review the essential questions from Units I-IV.
- Identify one substantial article published in the last five years that you think (a) addresses one of the essential questions, and (b) can be connected to an event in China’s modern history.
- Be prepared to explain what you have read and engage your classmates in discussion.