A History of Modern China


This course explores the nineteenth and twentieth-century history of China. Its purpose is to provide students with a historical foundation to understand the momentous changes the country underwent during its traumatic transition from an empire to a nation-state. We start the course at the height of the empire's power in late-eighteenth century, when the Qing dynasty (1637-1912) conquered vast swathes of lands and people in Inner Asia. We then move on to the Qing's troubled relationship to Western capitalism and imperialism in the nineteenth century, which challenged the economic, social, and ideological structures of the imperial regime, culminating in the emergence of "China" as a nation-state. Situating its national history within a global context, the course outlines in detail the transformations that took place in the twentieth century, from the rise of communism and fascism to the Second World War to Maoism to Cultural Revolution. We end the semester with yet another major change that took place in the 1980s, when a revolutionary Maoist ideology was replaced with a technocratic regime, the legacies of which are still with us today.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU Hum; BU IS; AS HUM; AS LCD

Section 01

A History of Modern China - 01
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