Spring 2023

Troubled Transformations: History of Modern China

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-172  |  History, as HIST-172


George Qiao (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 172 [AS/TC/TE/TS] and ASLC 172) The transformation of China from a declining dynastic empire in the nineteenth century to today’s rapidly ascending global super-power with a communist party at its helm has been both dramatic and traumatic. This course introduces students to the drama and trauma of China’s modern transformations and investigates the epic events and historical processes that have come to shape the fate of the country and its people. We will begin with the opium war and the subsequent colonial incursions by multiple Western powers and the gradual disintegration of a two-millenia-old imperial system. We will then discuss China’s search for modernity with experimentations in industrialization, political modernization, and cultural regeneration. We will study the causes and consequences of China’s many civil wars, the Sino-Japanese War, and the Nationalist and Communist Revolutions in the early twentieth century. And finally, we will try to understand the lived experiences under the tumultuous Communist rule since 1949 that has witnessed fundamental social changes, massive political chaos, and unprecedented economic growth. This course will be of interest to anyone trying to understand contemporary Chinese politics, political economy, society, culture, and international relations. Classes will entail lectures combined with close readings and discussions that engage primary texts, interpretive essays, and film. Two class meetings per week.

Spring semester. Professor Qiao.

How to handle overenrollment: ASLC and History majors will have priority.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Close analysis of historical evidence, which may include written documents, images, music, films, or statistics from the historical period under study. Exploration of scholarly, methodological, and theoretical debates about historical topics. Extensive reading, varying forms of written work, and intensive in-class discussions.

ASLC 172 - LEC

Section 01
M 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM FAYE 113
W 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM FAYE 113


Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2023, Spring 2025