History of Modern China, 1911- 2011: A Century of Transformation

This course explores the economic, political, cultural and social history of China in the 100 years from 1911 to 2011. It examines the fascinating interplay between customary Chinese culture and rapidly evolving notions of global modernity while also tracing the rise of modern political parties and the dynamics of modern nationalism. Among the cultural and social topics covered are gender roles, family life, identities in flux, social mobility, patriotism, and environment.

The course is divided into 3 parts. Part 1 deals with 1911-49.  It covers such important subjects as the 1911 Revolution, the May Fourth Movement, the Northern Expedition, the Nanjing Decade, the Anti-Japanese Resistance War, and the post-WWII revolution led by the Communist Party. Part 2 focuses on the early years of the People’s Republic, more specifically the 1949-76 period during which Mao Zedong was the leader of the nation. Emphasis is placed on international relations (including China’s evolving interactions with the Soviet Union and the USA) and on various socialist economic development programs including the Five Year Plan model. Special emphasis is placed on the differing roles of the rural and urban sectors in early-phase socialist transformation. Part 3 concerns the post-Mao era of development, more specifically the 1977-2011 period. Emphasis is placed on the unfolding of the Reform and Opening policies initiated during Deng Xiaoping’s years of leadership and the complex impact of these policies on economic, social and cultural life in both the rural and urban spheres. This section will also examine China’s increasing levels of interaction with the global community. Reading material considers books published by Prof. Pickowicz, including Chinese Village, Socialist State; Dilemmas of Victory; and Popular China. Students will also view 3 documentary films on which Prof. Pickowicz worked as Associate Producer. Collectively, these films are known as China: A Century of Revolution. The first film, China in Revolution, treats 1911-49.

The second film, The Mao Years, treats 1949-76. The third film, Born Under the Red Flag, treats the period of reform and opening that begins in 1977.

FacultyWennan LIU
Paul G. Pickowicz


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