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Songster/HIST 162/syllabus/S-13

History 162: Modern China

PROFESSOR: E. Elena Songster

COURSE: History 162

LOCATION: Dante 220

TIME: Tu/Th 1:10-2:40 pm

TERM: Spring 2013

OFFICE: Galileo 313


Tu/Th 11:10 - 12:10

Or by appointment

OFFICE PHONE: 925-631-6279



The course begins during the early 20th century with the Qing dynasty engaged in its final struggles to stay in power and follows the history of Modern China through the establishment and transformations of its present-day split identity of Communist China on the mainland and the Republic of China in Taiwan. This period of history witnessed war, uprising, rebellion, reform, and revolution and traces the history of China from an unacknowledged, impoverished country to its present status as a rising economic and political superpower. We will investigate each of these episodes and how our use of specific terms to describe them affects our perception of history. You will study this dynamic period through primary and secondary texts, literature, and film, as well as lecture and discussion. This course also will hone your critical reading and analytical thinking and writing skills while informing you about how China became one of the most influential countries in our present day.


In order to better understand how modern China came to be, this class also offers students to the opportunity to study History as a discipline at an advanced level. Students will place major events in a coherent chronological narrative that demonstrates an understanding of causal relationships between events and the significance of historical context. Reading critically and evaluating evidence and arguments, will enable students to analyze and assess the quality and reliability of sources. Additionally students will construct their own historical arguments through gathering and interpreting evidence from primary and secondary sources. Students also have opportunities to present these evidence-based arguments in both written and oral form as they hone their presentation and writing skills. Discussions will allow students to develop these skills through shared inquiry into some historically significant and highly provocative documents from modern China.


  1. Gain a chronologically sound understanding of major events and movements in modern Chinese history

  2. Identify major political, economic, social, cultural, environmental, and intellectual trends of modern Chinese history

  3. Examine and articulate multiple interpretations of specific events and understand the complexity of causation, contingency, convergence, and agency

  4. Learn to collect and use an appropriate array of primary sources as evidence for historical argumentation

  5. Assess the credibility of primary documents and how to interpret them

  6. Examine arguments, texts, and other sources within their historical contexts

  7. Write persuasive and accurately documented historical essays


Schoppa, R. Keith. Revolution and its Past: Identities and Change in Modern Chinese History, 3rd Edition. New York: Prentice Hall, 2011 [2002]. (Schoppa)

Cohen, Paul A. History in Three Keys: The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth. New York: Columbia University, 1997. (Three Keys)

LAO She. Rickshaw. Honolulu: University of Hawai’I Press, 1979. (Rickshaw)

FENG Jicai. Ten Years of Madness: Oral Histories of China’s Cultural Revolution. San Francisco: China Books and Periodicals, 1996. (Madness)

CHEN Guidi and WU Chuntao. Will the Boat Sink the Water: The Life of China’s Peasants. New York, Public Affairs, 2007. (Boat)

GaelLearn (Moodle):

List of Additional Required Readings Found on our Class Moodle Site:

Schiffrin, Harold Z. “Kidnapped in London.” In Sun Yat-sen and the Origins of the Chinese Revolution, 98-139. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970.

“ZOU Rong, On Revolution.” In The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection, edited by Pei-kai Cheng and Michael Lestz, 197-202. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1999.

“Tongmeng Hui Revolutionary Proclamation, 1907” In The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection, edited by Pei-kai Cheng and Michael Lestz, 202-206. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1999.

SUN Yat-sen, “Three Principles of the People.”

“The Last Emperor’s Abdication Edict.” In Sources in Chinese History: Diverse Perspectives from 1644 to the Present, edited by David G. Atwill and Yurong Y. Atwill, 152-153. London: Prentice Hall, 2010.

“HU Shih and Pragmatism in China.” In China’s Response to the West: A Documentary Survey, 1839-1923, edited by Ssu-yü Teng and John K. Fairbank, 251-258. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979 [1954].

“LU Xun’s Call to Arms.” In Sources in Chinese History: Diverse Perspectives

from 1644 to the Present, edited by David G. Atwill and Yurong Y. Atwill, 166-169. London: Prentice Hall, 2010. “Early Converts to Marxism” Teng & Fairbank

LU Xun, “Diary of a Madman.” In Diary of a Madman and Other Stories,

translated by William A. Lyell, 29-41.Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1990.

LU Xun, “Medicine.” In Diary of a Madman and Other Stories, translated by William A.

Lyell, 29-41.Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1990.

“Early Converts to Marxism.” In China’s Response to the West: A Documentary

Survey, 1839-1923, edited by Ssu-yü Teng and John K. Fairbank, 239-250. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979 [1954].

MAO Tse-tung, “Report on an Investigation on the Peasant Movement in Hunan.” In

Selected Readings from the Works of Mao Tsetung, 23-39. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1971.

Jones, Andrew F. “Listening to the Chinese Jazz Age,” and “The Gramophone in

China.” In Yellow Music: Media Culture and Colonial Modernity in The Chinese Jazz Age, 1-20 and 53-72. Durham: Duke University Press, 2001.

Pepper, Suzanne. “Introduction” and “The Beginning of the End.” In Civil War in

China: The Political Struggle: 1945-1949, 3-6 and 7-41. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.

“Taiwan and the GMD’s Road to Defeat (1945-1949).” In Sources in Chinese History:

Diverse Perspectives from 1644 to the Present, edited by David G. Atwill and Yurong Y. Atwill, 238-245. London: Prentice Hall, 2010.

MAO Tse-tung, “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People.” In

Selected Readings from the Works of Mao Tsetung, 432-479. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1971.

“DING Ling’s Thoughts on March 8, Women’s Day (1942).” In Sources in Chinese

History: Diverse Perspectives from 1644 to the Present, edited by David G. Atwill and Yurong Y. Atwill, 233-236. London: Prentice Hall, 2010.

“The Marriage Law.” In Sources in Chinese History: Diverse Perspectives from 1644

to the Present, edited by David G. Atwill and Yurong Y. Atwill, 260-262. London: Prentice Hall, 2010.

“Birth Control and Planned Families.” In Sources in Chinese History: Diverse

Perspectives from 1644 to the Present, edited by David G. Atwill and Yurong Y. Atwill, 263-264. London: Prentice Hall, 2010.

Copper, John, “History.” In Taiwan: Nation-State or Province?, 5th Edition, 29-65. Boulder: Westview Press, 2009.

News Articles on the panda gift controversy. Read ALL three articles.
I have set up a file on our class GaelLearn site titled “Readings” which contains all of the items listed.

Rampolla, Mary Lynn. A Pocket Guide to writing in History. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007 [1997].

(This is a quick guide to writing and citation. I particularly recommend this for History Majors or anyone taking several History classes.)
MOODLE: I will be using MOODLE to post your additional required readings, make announcements, post documents, accept assignments, etc. This will offer you a tremendous amount of enhanced convenience and enable you access to additional resources.

Note: I have put most of these books on reserve in the SMC Library in “Traditional Reserves”. An exception to this is the CHEN Guidi book, Will the Boat Sink the Water, which is an E-Book. It will therefore be on E-Res, not in the traditional reserves with the other books. Of course you can also buy or possibly rent them at the campus bookstore or purchase them on-line through various vendors.

To find books on reserve and readings in Electronic Reserves on the SMC Library website:

  • Go to the Library's homepage at

  • Click on the RESERVES

  • Choose from the drop-down menu for a search category, either COURSE TITLE (type: HIST 162 or Modern China) or INSTRUCTOR (type: Songster). 

  • A dialogue box will appear. Type in the password: HIST162 (No Spaces)

  • Click “Accept”.

  • A separate box should pop up that lists “Materials at the Library.”

IF you are looking for one of the BOOKS on reserve refer to this list.

*Please note that most items are available for two-hour check out—no overnight. Be sure you understand the reserve policy and the time-limit for each item you check out.
For “Additional Required Readings” Go to the Moodle site for our class and look for the box titled “Readings”. The Additional Required Readings are posted here in the order that they are due.
Attendance, Participation, and Small Written Assignments:

Attendance is mandatory for success in this class. A large percentage of the information you are expected to master will be coming from lecture and discussions. It is your responsibility to come to class. If you miss opportunities for points earned on in-class assignments or quizzes due to absence, they are gone. Make-ups are not possible except at my discretion for absences that I have personally excused and for which you have written documentation.

Your class participation will be graded. Participation is based on your general engagement in the class and with the material (i.e. reading), our in-class discussions, and your completion of assignments. There are several short assignments that are unscheduled and will be assigned intermittently throughout the semester. Be punctual and prepared to thoughtfully and actively participate. Conducting oneself in a respectful and professional manner is expected of all in the classroom. In this spirit, TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONES BEFORE CLASS. Laptops are acceptable IF AND ONLY IF they are being used EXCLUSIVELY to take notes, otherwise they are a distraction and do not belong in the classroom.
Papers, Exams, and Quizzes:


There are 2 short papers. The first will focus on a primary source excerpt about a first-hand experience of an historical event (4 pages), the second will analyze multiple primary documents (7 pages). The first paper will be based solely on assigned readings. The second paper will require that you incorporate some outside material. In addition to these two papers, you will have some pre-paper assignments and short response write-ups due. I will give you prompts and more details about the paper assignments closer to each due date.

Plagiarism, or using other people’s words or ideas without properly acknowledging them, is not tolerated. Know what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. Refer to the section in the SMC Student Handbook that addresses “Forms of violations of the Academic Honor Code” and understand procedures for dealing with academic dishonesty and other forms of academic misconduct. The consequences can range from a grade of F on an assignment to expulsion from the college. If you have any questions about what constitutes plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, come see me during office hours.

You will have two exams: a Midterm and a Final. They will be essay-based exams with short answers and some supplementary components, which may include map questions, chronology questions, or the like. Bring bluebooks and several writing utensils to all exams. Check the Course Schedule for dates.


There are 3 scheduled quizzes and two pop quizzes on readings. These will be very straight forward, designed simply to motivate you to keep up with the reading. You will also have a short map quiz early in the semester. Be on time; there are no make-up quizzes unless previously authorized by me with written documentation.


Paper I 35 pts. Tue., March 5

Midterm Exam 50 pts. Tue., March 19

Paper II 75 pts. Tue., April 23

Final Exam 100 pts. Thu., May 23

Class Participation 35 pts. Throughout Semester

Small Written Assignments 25 pts. Throughout Semester

Quizzes 30 pts. Throughout Semester

Total 350 pts.

Your grade will be based on a straight scale, for example: 80-89% is in the B range.
Special Circumstances and Disabilities: Student Disability Services extends reasonable and appropriate accommodations that take into account the context of the course and its essential elements for individuals with qualifying disabilities. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the Student Disability Services Office at (925) 631-4358 to set up a confidential appointment to discuss accommodation, policies, guidelines and available services. Additional information regarding the services available may be found at the following address on the Saint Mary’s website:



Tu 2/12: Introduction to the course

Reading: No reading expected for the first day.
Th 2/14: Background to the Late Imperial Period

Reading: Schoppa, Ch.6;

Cohen, Three Keys, “Prologue” (3-13).


Tu 2/19: The Boxer Uprising

Reading: Cohen, Three Keys, Ch.1-3 (14-118).
Th 2/21: The New Policies (AKA The Qing Reforms); Quiz (1) on Cohen

Reading: Cohen, Three Keys, Part II (119-208).


Tu 2/26: Sun Yat-sen and other Discontents

Reading: Schoppa, Ch.7;

MOODLE: Schiffrin, “Kidnapped in London”.

Th 2/28: The Revolution that Toppled the Dynastic System;

Reading: MOODLE: “ZOU Rong on Revolution”; “Tongmeng Hui Revolutionary

Proclamation”; “The Last Emperor’s Abdication Edict”; SUN Yat-sen, “Three Principles of the People”.


Tu 3/5: Paper 1 DUE

The Promises of Yuan Shikai

Reading: Schoppa, Ch.8;

MOODLE: “HU Shih and Pragmatism”; LU Xun, “Call to Arms”.
Th 3/7: May 4th and the New Culture Movement

Reading: Schoppa, Ch.9;

MOODLE: LU Xun, “Diary of a Madman”; LU Xun, “Medicine”.


Tu 3/12: The Birth of Chinese Communism;

Quiz (2) on “Early Converts” & “Report on an Investigation”

Reading: Schoppa, Ch. 10;

MOODLE: “Early Converts to Marxism”; Mao, “Report on an Investigation”.
Th 3/14: The Nanjing Decade

Reading: Schoppa, Ch.11;

MOODLE: Jones, “Listening to the Chinese Jazz Age”; Jones, “The Gramophone in China”.



Reading: No Reading, Study for Your Exam!
Tu 3/21: The Struggle for Survival

Reading: Schoppa, Ch.12;

LAO She, Rickshaw: Intro-Ch. 7 (vii-67).


Tu 3/26: Spring Break: Class does not meet

Th 3/28: Spring Break: Class does not meet


Tu 4/2: Japanese Invasion and the 2nd United Front

Reading: Schoppa, Ch. 13;

LAO She, Rickshaw, Ch. 18-24 (173-249).

Th 4/4: The War of Resistance Against Japan; Quiz (3) on Rickshaw

Reading: Schoppa, Ch. 14


Tu 4/9: Divisive Post-War Peace

Reading: Schoppa, Ch. 15;

MOODLE: Pepper, “Introduction,” and “The Beginning of the End,” (3-41).

Th 4/11: Against All Odds

Reading: MOODLE: “Taiwan and the GMD’s Road to Defeat”.


Tu 4/16: Building a Socialist State

Reading: Schoppa, Ch. 16;

MOODLE: MAO Tse-tung, “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People”.

Th 4/18: Holding up Half the Sky—Women in Communist China

Reading: Schoppa, Ch. 17;

MOODLE: “The Marriage Law,” “Birth Control and Planned Families” (260-264); DING Ling: “Thoughts on March 8”.


Tu 4/23: Mao, The Party, and Revolution; Paper 2 DUE

Reading: Schoppa, Ch. 18; FENG, Madness: (1-15).
Th 4/25: Being Part of the Cultural Revolution—The Experience

Reading: FENG, Madness: (17-47; 227-249).


Tu 4/30: The Rise of Deng Xiaoping and a New Outlook

Reading: Schoppa, Ch. 19;

CHEN & WU, Boat:Ch. 1 (1-26).

Th 5/2: Is Economic Reform Political Reform?

Reading: CHEN & WU, Boat: Ch. 2 (27-62).


Tu 5/7: The Tiananmen Massacre

Reading: Schoppa, Ch. 20;

CHEN & WU, Boat: Ch. 3-4 (63-130).

Th 5/9: Cross-Strait Tensions and Taiwan Identity

Reading: Schoppa, Ch. 21

Moodle: Copper, “History” (29-65)


Tu 5/14: Cross-Strait Tensions and Taiwan Identity

Reading: Schoppa Epilogue;

Moodle: News Articles on Panda Diplomacy (Read ALL 3).

Th 5/16: China Today: A Miracle or a Catastrophe?

Reading: CHEN & WU, Boat: Ch. 5 & 6 (131-220)

FINAL EXAM: THURSDAY, 5/23, 11:30-1:30 pm

HELD IN REGULAR CLASSROOM. Bring Blue Books and writing utensils.

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