History of Modern China

For millennia, China was one of the leading centers of culture and power, but it fell into decline in the era of Western imperialism. This course will begin at that low point, following the wild historical swings of Republican revolution, civil war, Japanese occupation and the Communist Revolution under Mao. The course will focus particularly on the Communist period, including the Great Leap Forward when forced collectivization and industrialization killed millions, the Cultural Revolution, when Mao and his circle tried to purge the country of all non-revolutionary influences, and the post-Mao reforms, which have made the supposedly communist state a breathtakingly successful capitalist one. Finally we will examine the potentials and challenges of China today. We will read histories, memoirs, fiction, view films and examine original sources in our attempt to deepen our understanding of China’s role in the world.

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