Fall 2022 - HIST 366 D100

Social and Cultural History of Modern China (4)

Class Number: 4534

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    SWH 10061, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units, including six units of lower division history. HIST 255 is recommended.



Explores the social and cultural problems in modern Chinese history, with special emphasis on popular and elite cultures in the late Qing, Republican, and socialist eras.


Course details:

Taking into account major ideas, events, personalities, and conflicts of the China’s Republican era (1911-1949), this class will use film, literature and some academic readings to highlight the role of imperialism, nationalism, women’s issues, science and technology and everyday lives in both cities and rural areas.


Course objectives:

(i) to help students view the Modern Chinese history through cultural perspective, identify major topics and their impact on Chinese culture and society

(ii) to provide the factual grounding and conceptual apparatus for future historical research

(iii) learn how to write a short academic essay using primary and secondary sources.


  • Attendance & Participation 20%
  • Film reaction 15%
  • Essay proposal and preliminary bibliography 10%
  • Short essay 35%
  • Presentation (based on short essay) 20%


Week 1. The Republican Period: Overview.

- Preservation of Sovereignty

- Challenges and Achievements

Readings: Hu Sheng, Imperialism and Chinese Politics (1948) pp.176-217 (available at https://archive.org/details/dli.ernet.54187/page/38/mode/2up and hardcopy at the SFU Library).

Week 2. 1911 Revolution and the Warlord Era.

  • Role of 1911 Revolution
  • Warlord Era and Nation-building

Readings: Edward McCord, “Warlordism in Early Republican China,” in David A. Graff and Robin Higham, eds., A Military History of China (Westview Press, 2002), pp. 175-192.  (available at https://sfu-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/1u29dis/TN_cdi_scopus_primary_255460931 )

                 Joseph Esherick, “Reconsidering 1911: Lessons of a sudden revolution,” Journal of Modern Chinese History, 6:1 (2012) pp. 1-14 ( available at https://sfu-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/1u29dis/TN_cdi_proquest_miscellaneous_1112666161)

Week 3. May Fourth and Nanjing Decade.

  • Reforms and Protest: impact on Chinese society and global trend

-     Fascist elements of Guomindang’s rule

Readings: Maggie Clinton, Revolutionary Nativism: Fascism and Culture in China, 1925-1937 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017) pp.23-63 (available at https://sfu-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/1u29dis/TN_cdi_askewsholts_vlebooks_9780822373032 )


Week 4. War and Revolution.

  • Conquest and Social consequences
  • Resistance and Submission

Readings: Hu Sheng, Imperialism and Chinese Politics (1948) pp. 247-305

                 Franz Schurmann, Orville Schell. Republican China: Nationalism, War and Rise of Communism 1911-1949. (Random House, 1967) pp.173-195. (Hardcopy available at SFU Library)

Film: Nanjing, Nanjing (a clip from the film)


Week 5. Nationalism.

  • Intellectual Search for “Regeneration” and Chinese Renaissance
  • Patriotism and Revolution

Readings: Hu Sheng, Imperialism and Chinese Politics (1948) pp.55-109

                  Lloyd Eastman. “Who Lost China? Chiang Kai-shek Testifies.” in Lloyd Eastman. Seeds of Destruction: Nationalist China in War and Revolution, 1937-1949 (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press,1984), pp. 203-215. (Hardcopy available at SFU Library)


Week 6. Imperialism.

  • Foreign Interference and Memory of “Humiliation”
  • Adaptation and Resistance

Readings: Hu Sheng, Imperialism and Chinese Politics (1948) pp.109-176.


Week 7. Communism and Socialism.

  • Mao’s Thought and Soviet Influence
  • Communism: ideology or political tool?

Readings: Edgar Snow, Red Star Over China, parts 4–6 (available at SFU Library)

                Marx and Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, Ch. 1: Bourgeois and Proletarians (Available online: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm )

Week 8. City.

  • Labour and Workers
  • Intellectuals and Propaganda

Readings:  Ho Kan-Chih. “Rise of the Chinese Working-Class Movement. The Working-Class Movement in Hunan. The Big Political Strike of the Peking-Hankow Railway Workers” in F. Schurmann, Orville Schell. Republican China: Nationalism, War and Rise of Communism 1911-1949. (Random House, 1967) pp. 116-123.

                 Jeremy Brown, City versus Countryside in Mao’s China: Negotiating the Divide (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2012). Introduction & Epilogue. pp.1-15;229-234.  (https://sfu-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/15tu09f/01SFUL_ALMA21148985040003611 )


Week 9. Countryside.

  • Rural Movements
  • Evolution of Social Structures

Readings: Y.C. James Yen. The Mass Education Movement in China. Peking, China. 1925

Mao Tse-tung. Report on an investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan. 1927.

Liang Shu-ming. Some Ideas Underlying the Rural Work in Tsouping. 1937.


Week 10. Arts and Culture.

  • Science and Technology
  • Arts and Culture

Readings: Joanna Waley-Cohen, “China and Western Technology in the Late Eighteenth Century,” The American Historical Review 98, no. 5 (December 1993), pp.1525–44.  (https://sfu-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/1u29dis/TN_cdi_proquest_miscellaneous_38459120 )

                Maggie Clinton, Revolutionary Nativism: Fascism and Culture in China, 1925-1937 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017), pp.161-190.


Week 11. Ethnic Minorities in China.

  • “Liberation” of Minority Regions
  • Otherness in Communist Context

Readings: Jian Chen, “The Chinese Communist “Liberation” of Tibet, 1949–51” in J. Brown & P. Pickowitz (eds). Dilemmas of Victory: The Early Years of the People’s Republic of China. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007), pp.130-160.

               James Z. Gao “The Call of the Oases: The “Peaceful Liberation” of Xinjiang, 1949-1953” in J. Brown & P. Pickowitz (eds). Dilemmas of Victory: The Early Years of the People’s Republic of China. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007), pp.184-204. (https://sfu-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/15tu09f/01SFUL_ALMA51191860480003611 )


Week 12. Women’s History

  • Social class and Women
  • Traditionalism and Modernity

Readings: Ida Pruitt. Old Madam Yin: A Memoir of Peking Life.1979 (Stanford: Stanford University Press), pp.1-46 (Hardcopy available at SFU Library)




Academic articles and book chapters assigned by the instructor and available at SFU Library or online.


Recommended (Non-mandatory) Literary Readings:

1.Lu Xun. The True Story of Ah Q.

2.Lao She. Cat Country.

3. Ba Jin. Family.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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