Spring 2019

Key to Modern China: The History of Shanghai from 1840 to 2010

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-470  |  History, as HIST-470


George Qiao (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 470 [AS] and ASLC 470 [C]) The rise of Shanghai as a cosmopolitan modern city in the nineteenth century and the vicissitude of its fortune in the twentieth century closely paralleled China’s modern history–in fact, many of China’s most important modern transformations first took place in the metropolis. Shanghai was the largest treaty port with the first foreign concessions in China, and thus emerged as the primary conduit for western ideas and culture. It witnessed the rise of China’s first bourgeoisie and urban middle class, and along with them, a modern consumer culture, popular media, modern aesthetics and new forms of art. It was also the origin of the workers’ movement and communist revolution and where the Chinese Communist Party held its first meetings. During the Mao era, Shanghai was not only the preeminent industrial city in the country, but also a major political center where the cultural revolution was plotted. Thanks to its key role in China’s modernity, the history of Shanghai has generated a substantial and impressive body of scholarship over the past few decades. In this research seminar, we will examine the various scholarly approaches to Shanghai’s history and grapple with a number of important theoretical and historiographic issues that are central to the study of modern Chinese history. In this seminar, we will develop research and writing skills in order to conduct a research project. This course requires some familiarity with modern Chinese history, but command of Chinese language is not necessary. Assignments include research exercises, short response papers, presentations, a research prospectus, and a final paper. Students wishing to fulfill the seminar paper requirement may opt to write a research paper. One class meeting per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring 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 Research, Attention to Writing, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019