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Level 5

5AAH3007: China: From Imperial State to People's Republic

Credit value: 30
Module convenor/tutor: Dr Rebecca Scott
Teaching pattern: 20 x 2 hour seminars (weekly)
AvailabilityPlease see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 3 hour examination (60%), 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each) & 1 x oral presentation (10%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment by the following methods: 1 x 3 hour examination (60%); 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each); 1 x 1500 word essay (10%)

N.B. This module cannot be taken in conjunction with 5AAH1033/34 due to overlap of content.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

Making sense of China has become a favourite theme in British media. Often, however, its complex history is only barely touched upon, even though it is crucial if we wish to understand better the lives of people in China today. This module introduces students to the two centuries commonly associated with the making of a “modern China”. How did China transform from the early 1800s through to the end of the Mao Era and the beginning of economic reforms? How did people experience life under changing political regimes and what did it mean for life to become more “modern”? How did wars, revolutions, and uprisings affect politics, economy, but also the daily decisions of ordinary citizens? What role did international influences and contacts play in these developments? And how might we even study the history of a country as ethnically, geographically, and economically diverse as China? Students will explore a range of translated primary sources and a wealth of scholarship, much of which is based on primary sources that have only become accessible in the last few decades and years. By engaging critically with the social, cultural, economic, and political histories of successive Chinese states, this module encourages students to think critically about what “China” actually meant for different people at different times; from the imperial state and its collapse, to the unstable Republican regimes, and finally the Communist state under Mao and shortly after.

Provisional teaching plan

Semester 1

1. The Qing empire and the beginnings of “modern China”
2. Empire(s) and trade
3. Imperial rule and its contestants
4. Extraterritoriality and life in the treaty ports
5. The Boxers
6. Reforms and revolution
7. Republican rule and its contestants
8. Modern life in urban China
9. Living on “the margins”
10. The (In-)human faces of war

Semester 2

11. War and political power
12. High politics and the Cold War
13. Mass mobilisation under CCP rule
14. Everyday socialism
15. The Great Leap and the countryside
16. High Maoism
17. The early Cultural Revolution
18. Re-thinking the 1970s
19. Law, economics and the transition to “Reform and Opening"
20. 1989

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