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HIEA 4501: The Cultural Revolution in China
In 1966, Mao Zedong launched his last great mass campaign by calling upon the youth of China to “practice revolution” and rebel against established authority. The tumultuous response to Mao’s summons opened a ten year period in which political and social order were nearly destroyed, over a million people were persecuted, and countless lives were ruined. With the death of Mao in 1976, a movement that had begun as an effort to keep China firmly on the path to socialism thus ended amid fear, apathy and doubt as to the legitimacy of the Communist Party and the revolution which it had led. Today, fifty years after it began, the Cultural Revolution remains one of the most traumatic yet least understood periods of Modern Chinese History. This seminar attempts to get at the meaning and significance of the Cultural Revolution by examining it as a multi-faceted period that cannot be adequately understood through any single analytic framework. Through the reading and discussion of secondary literature and translated primary sources, we will consider a number of issues: the movement’s political and ideological roots, the role and culpability of Mao, the significance of the Cultural Revolution as a youth movement, the causes of social violence, the impact of the movement on rural areas, and the influence that this “decade of violence” has had on Chinese government, society, and culture since the death of Mao. For the first ten weeks, seminar participants will read and discuss an average of between 200 to 250 pages of primary and secondary material. The remainder of the semester will be devoted to the completion of a substantial research paper of 20-25 pages. Evaluation will be based on the quality of both the seminar paper (50%) and attendance/participation in weekly discussions (50%). All seminar participants are expected to have had some background study of China in the post-1949 era. Those without such background will need to have read Mao’s China and After, by Maurice Meisner prior to the beginning of the course. This course satisfies the Second Writing Requirement and may be used as a capstone course for East Asian Studies majors.
HIEA 1501: Thought and Religion in Early China
This is a discussion- and writing-intensive course. Through an introduction of scholarly works and primary source materials, this course explores the most prominent figures, ideas, and forces that shaped the intellectual life and religious beliefs in Chinese history. Major topics include early Chinese worldview, the “Hundred Schools of Thought,” and popular beliefs and practices. Another goal of this class is to introduce students to the historian’s craft of research and writing. Class discussion, presentations, and a variety of written assignments all gear toward developing students’ critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. Reading assignments include Philip J. Ivanhoe and Bryan W. Van Norden, Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy (Hackett Publishing, 2005), Bryan W. Van Norden, Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy (Hackett Publishing, 2011,), and selected articles and book chapters. This course fulfills the College’s second writing and historical and non-Western perspective requirements. No previous knowledge of Chinese history is required.
HIEA 2011: History of Chinese Civilization
This course surveys China’s long history from the earliest written records to the end of the 20th century. The first half of the semester focuses on the evolution of the country’s intellectual traditions, imperial institutions, and key cultural and religious beliefs and practices. We will also examine how the successive governments of the late imperial times dealt with the strains of a changing society and economy. The second half of the course will consider how China met the challenges of the 19th and 20th centuries, characterized by Western and Japanese colonialism and frequent, large-scale domestic unrest. We will conclude the class by discussing the government and society of the People’s Republic against the background of these challenges.
HIEA 2031: Modern China
At the turn of the 20th century, China was one of the poorest nations in the world. Its 2,000 year old system of government was crumbling, large segments of its population were impoverished or starving, and the country seemed powerless to defend itself against repeated foreign intrusion. Once known as the “sick man of Asia,” China today is a global power with world-wide strategic, economic and political influence. This course is about the people, personalities, and events that have given this remarkable transformation its dramatic and sometimes tragic tone. It is also about the social, political, and cultural currents that lay beneath these more visible manifestations of change and the profound effect these forces have had on the Chinese people. Following a brief consideration of the political and social institutions of the last imperial dynasty (the Qing, 1644-1911), we will examine the interaction of foreign aggression and domestic social crises that led first to the fall of the imperial order and the establishment of a Republic in 1911 and then to the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. From here we move on to the post-'49 period under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), a period that has been described as the greatest attempt at revolutionary social transformation in world history. In the final weeks of the course, we will look at the post-Mao reform era and the issues facing China today after nearly a century of revolution. Reading assignments, drawn from a survey textbook (TBA) as well as other secondary and translated primary sources, will average about 125 pages per week. Grades for the course will be based on a mid-term exam (25%), a final exam (30%), a 5 to7-page essay (30%) and attendance and participation in discussion sections (15%).