Fall 2018

State, Society, and Economy in Late Imperial China, 1368-1911

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-367  |  History, as HIST-367


George Qiao (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 367 [AS] and ASLC 367 [C]) This seminar introduces students to the major historical scholarship and debates on the state, society, and economy in China during the Ming-Qing era, the last two imperial dynasties. The purpose of the course is to not only familiarize students with important issues in late imperial Chinese history, but also engage them in representative work by successive generations of scholars in order to understand how historical interpretations (including theoretical orientations, methodology, and use of sources) have developed over time. We will focus on the following key topics: the respective features of the Ming and Qing imperial states; frontier expansion and ethnic statecraft; the structure of local government and rural control; the law in society; heterodoxy, collective violence, and peasant rebellion; the evolution of the Chinese family and lineage system; the nature of the Chinese “gentry” and the foundations of their power; civil examinations and their role in fostering social mobility, elite reproduction, and stable imperial rule; commercial expansion and the rise of an urban culture; the role of merchants in society, the organizations of commerce and industry, and “sprouts of capitalism”; cities and the debate over whether a “civil society” or “public sphere” existed in late imperial China; the flow of silver and China’s participation in the early modern global maritime trade; and the rival approaches to understanding that most controversial of topics, the late imperial Chinese economy and the “Great Divergence” debate. All of these topics have provoked intense debates and fostered an important and growing body of scholarship. This is a reading intensive and writing attentive course. Requirements include short response papers, book reviews, and topical essays. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Qiao.

If Overenrolled: Priority to HIST and ASLC majors, by seniority if necessary.


Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Writing, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018