Fall 2018 - HIST 367 D100

History of the People's Republic of China (4)

Class Number: 5191

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    SECB 1012, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Jeremy Brown
    1 778 782-4379
    Office: AQ 6228
  • Prerequisites:

    45 units, including six units of lower division history.



Analyzes the history of the PRC from 1949 to present. Special emphasis on ideology, inequality, diversity, the Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution, and economic reforms. Students with credit for HIST 256 may not take this course for further credit.


Mao Zedong initiated revolutionary changes when he led the Chinese Communist Party to power in 1949.  Mao wanted to get rid of inequality and exploitation. He also wanted to make China strong and modern.  Sixty-nine years after the revolution, the Communist Party still rules China, but the history of the People’s Republic did not unfold as Mao had hoped.  How do we explain what happened? 

We will approach this question from multiple perspectives, from elite politics to everyday life at the grassroots.  We will master the chronological narrative from 1949 to the present and will also explore such historical themes as humor and satire, marriage, and the one-child policy.  These themes, presented through readings and films, will serve as “windows” into how people in China have experienced the past sixty-nine years. 


By the end of the term, students will have: (1) gained a deeper understanding of key problems in contemporary Chinese history; (2) developed critical approaches toward primary and secondary sources; (3) improved their ability to interpret, explain, and form arguments about cultural, economic, political, and social change.


  • Participation 25%
  • Writing assignments, including essays and in-class writing, 75%
  • There are no exams in this course, but the in-class writing exercises might seem quiz-like.


Tutorials WILL meet on the first day of class (Friday, September 7).



Andrew Walder, China Under Mao: A Revolution Derailed (Harvard University Press, 2015). This is our course textbook, but as the title implies, Walder has strong views about the Mao years. You are allowed to agree or disagree with him. Either the paperback (2017) or hardcover edition is fine.

Chen Huiqin, Daughter of Good Fortune: A Twentieth-Century Chinese Peasant Memoir (University of Washington Press, 2015).

Yu Hua, China in Ten Words, trans. Allan H. Barr (New York: Anchor, 2012). Note: Students who prefer to read Yu Hua’s book in its original Chinese may do so instead of purchasing the English translation: 余華,《十個詞彙裡的中國》台北:麥田出版,2011.

Other readings will be provided electronically (indicated with an “*” in the schedule).

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/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