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

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

Part 1 deals with 1911-49, covering the 1911 Revolution, the May Fourth Movement, the Nanjing Decade, the Resistance War, and the post-WWII revolution. Part 2 focuses on the 1949-76 period when Mao Zedong was China’s leader, emphasizing socialist economic development programs including the Five Year Plan model and the differing roles of the rural and urban sectors in early-phase socialist transformation.  Part 3 concerns the post-Mao 1977-2011 period, stressing the Reform and Opening policies initiated during Deng Xiaoping’s years of leadership and the impact of these policies on both rural and urban people. Students will view three documentary films on which Pickowicz worked as Associate Producer: China in Revolution (1911-49); The Mao Years (1949-76); Born Under the Red Flag (1977-1992).


Paul G. Pickowicz, Research Professor, University of California, San Diego

Liu Wennan, Associate Researcher, Institute of Modern History, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences


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