Spring 2019 - HIST 255 D100

China since 1800 (3)

Class Number: 3810

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 3 – Apr 8, 2019: Tue, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 17, 2019
    Wed, 8:30–11:30 a.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.


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.


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)  critically read and analyze primary and secondary sources;
(4)  examine the challenges present-day China faces in light of its recent past.


  • Tutorial attendance and participation 25%
  • Newspaper/magazine primary source analysis 15%
  • Book review 15%
  • Quizzes 15%
  • Final Exam 30%



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:

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