Spring 2022 - HIST 255 D100

China since 1800 (3)

Class Number: 4520

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 10 – Apr 11, 2022: Fri, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 25, 2022
    Mon, 3:30–6:30 p.m.



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.


China began the nineteenth century controlled by the Manchus, a non-Han ethnic group that led the Qing dynasty. Policies of expansionism and alliances with Central Asian allies increased the territorial scope of Qing control. Crisis loomed, however, in the form of population pressure, internal rebellion, and imperialist aggression. In 1911, the Manchu-led dynasty fell and was replaced by a republic that struggled to address the many challenges facing people in China, and in 1949 the Chinese Communist Party established the People’s Republic of China. We will explore the accomplishments and traumas of recent Chinese history, including anti-traditional and feminist movements, Communist revolution, Japanese invasion, civil war, industrialization, famine, the Cultural Revolution, the reform era, the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, and beyond.

Upon successful completion of the course students should have (1) gained an appreciation of the magnitude of the problems facing people in China during the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries; (2) improved their ability to interpret contentious historical debates and moments by constructing arguments based on convincing evidence; (3) become familiar with how historians practice their craft by reading and analyzing primary and secondary sources.


  • Tutorial attendance and participation 25%
  • *Four short essays 65%
  • In-class writing exercises 10%


*Essay breakdown:

  • three essays of approximately 900-1,200 words, each worth 15%;
  • one essay of approximately 1,200-1,800 words, worth 20%).



  • 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 available online.

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 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware 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.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.