Spring 2021 - HIST 255 D100

China since 1800 (3)

Class Number: 5582

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM



A survey of the history of China from the end of the eighteenth century, when traditional Chinese society was arguably at its height of development, to the end of the twentieth century when the social revolutions promised by the Communist regime have clearly failed to materialize. The main objectives are to provide students with vocabularies and tools to understand and interpret the political, social and cultural transformations in modern China and to initiate them in the art and techniques of historical analysis. Breadth-Humanities.


This subject is an introduction to the major events, themes, and issues in the history of China from the nineteenth century to the early twentieth-first century. We begin with the long decline of the Qing dynasty and China’s ill-fated encounter with the West, and then move on to investigate how the country sought to redefine itself through reforms and revolutions. We examine how modern China experimented with constitutional monarchism, republicanism, socialism, and state-led capitalism as it searched for an appropriate system of modern governance. Furthermore, we will explore the accomplishments and traumas of the twentieth century, including student movements, Communist revolution, Japanese invasion, civil war, industrialization, famine, the Cultural Revolution, the reform era, the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, and beyond, particularly from the perspective of common people.

Please note that this course will be run synchronously: Our weekly lecture and tutorial will take place in real time using Zoom in conjunction with Hist. 255’s CANVAS page. All lectures will be recorded for those unable to attend live lectures.


  • Tutorial attendance and participation. Tutorials will be held live online and have been scheduled to accommodate students in various time zones. 25%
  • Two Essays of approximate 900 -1,200 words each worth 15% 30%
  • One Essay of approximatly 1,200 - 1,800 words 20%
  • One Final Essay of approximately 1,200 - 1,800 words 25%



Ida Pruitt, A Daughter of Han: The Autobiography of a Chinese Working Woman (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1967).

Anita Chan, Richard Madsen, and Jonathan Unger, Chen Village: Revolution to Globalization. Third Edition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009).

Harold M. Tanner, China: A History, Volume 2 (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2010).

Other readings are available on Canvas.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).