Introductory Seminar in East Asia

Spring 2013

HIEA 1501 (1)

Introductory Seminar in East Asia

"Peasant Rebellion and Revolution in Modern China"

Bradly W. Reed

 In a very short time, in China’s central, southern, and northern provinces, several hundred million peasants will rise like a mighty storm, like a hurricane, a force so swift and violent that no power, however great, will be able to hold it back. They will smash all the trammels that bind them and rush forward along the road to liberation. They will sweep all the imperialists, warlords, corrupt officials, local tyrants and evil gentry into their graves.

                                            Mao Zedong, 1927

As Mao’s words so colorfully affirm, peasant rebellion in China has frequently conjured images of dramatic and violent change. Paradoxically, China’s enormous rural population has also been characterized as a passive mass of peasant farmers toiling silently on the margins of both poverty and modernity. In this seminar, we will look beyond such stereotypes to consider the reasons and manner in which Chinese peasants have resisted established authority and the decisive impact this resistance has had on the course of Chinese history from roughly 1900 to the present. 

HIEA 1501 is a challenging seminar designed for, and limited to first and second year students. In addition to covering the topic through weekly readings of secondary and translated primary material, it is also introduces students to the concerns, methods, and practice of historical writing and inquiry. Emphasis is placed on developing the skills of critical reading, clear writing, and cogent discussion. Evaluation will be based on the completion of weekly readings (20%), the quality of participation in seminar discussions (40%), and a 10 12 page interpretive essay (40%). The course neither assumes nor requires any previous study of Chinese history.

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904

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