HIS 333: Chairman Mao’s China (Fall 2021)


Email: john.harney@centre.edu
Office: Crounse 424

Office Hours: M-Th, 1pm-2pm & by appointment

Class Meeting Time: MWF 9:10-10:10, Crounse 102

Course Overview

This course examines the modern history of China, focusing on the emergence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the twentieth century, the party’s creation of a communist state and the aftermath of Mao Zedong’s rule as China’s paramount leader for almost three decades.

Mao Zedong and his fellow Communists were central to the development of the modern Chinese state and the long-term revival of a country brought to the edge of ruin by western imperialism in the nineteenth century. In the decades since Mao’s death China has again become a major world power, thanks in large part to capitalist policies that directly contradict Mao’s socialist revolution. We will focus on the China Mao helped create and a century of Chinese history that has become synonymous with the “Great Helmsman.”

Required Readings

Jonathan D. Spence, The Search for Modern China.

Cheng and Lestz (eds.) The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection.

Louisa Lim, The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited.

Michael Schoenhals (ed.) China’s Cultural Revolution, 1966-1969: Not a Dinner Party.


Participation: 10%
Gobbet: 10%
Essay 1: 20%
Essay 2: 20%
Essay 3: 20%
Final: 20%

Tentative Schedule

Mon., Aug. 30 Intro / Imperial China
Read: Spence, Ch. 5 “Chinese Society and the Reign of Qianlong”

Wed., Sep. 1 Modernization in the Qing Era
Read: Spence, Ch. 10 “New Tensions in the Late Qing”

Fri., Sep. 3 The Fall of the Qing
Read: Spence, Ch. 11 “The End of the Dynasty”

Mon., Sep. 6 The 1911 Revolution
Read: De Bary, Sources of East Asian Tradition, 678-688 (Moodle)

Wed., Sep. 8 The May Fourth Movement
Read: Spence, Ch. 13 “”A Road is Made””

Fri., Sep. 10 The Birth of Chinese Communism
Read: Chen, Cheng & Lestz, 219-243

Mon., Sep. 13 The Northern Expedition
Read: Spence, Ch. 14 “The Fractured Alliance”

Wed., Sep. 15 The Nanjing Decade
Read: Spence, Ch. 15 “The Guomindang in Power”

Fri., Sep. 17 Mao, Guerrilla Leader
Read: TBD

Mon., Sep. 20 Retreat and the Rise of Mao
Read: Spence, Ch. 16 “Communist Survival”

Wed., Sep. 22 Chinese Communism in the 1930s
Read: Chen, Cheng & Lestz, 290-317

Fri., Sep. 24 Japanese Invasion
Read: Chen, Cheng & Lestz, 318-344

Mon., Sep. 27 A Cancer of the Heart
Read: TBD

Wed., Sep. 29 The War of Resistance
Read: Spence, Ch. 17 “World War II”

Fri., Oct. 1 Civil War
Read: Spence, Ch. 18 “The Fall of the Guomindang State”

Mon., Oct. 4 Proclamation of a Republic
Read: Chen, Cheng & Lestz, 345-372

Wed., Oct. 6 The Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier
Read: Fairbank, “United States Policy and the Nationalist Defeat (Moodle)

Fri., Oct. 8 FALL BREAK

Mon., Oct. 11 Land Reform & Korea: State-led Mass Movements Take Shape
Read: Spence, Ch. 19 “The Birth of the People’s Republic”

Wed., Oct. 13 Maoist Thought
Read: Zarrow, “Mao, Maoism, and the Communist Party” (Moodle)

Fri., Oct. 15 Gender and Race in Mao’s China
Read: Mullaney, “Identity Crisis in Postimperial China” (Moodle) Chen, Cheng & Lestz, 373-393

Mon., Oct. 18 Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom, A Hundred Schools of Thought Contend
Read: Chen, Cheng & Lestz, 394-411

Wed., Oct. 20 The Planned Economy
Read: Meisner, “The Social and Political Consequences of Industrialization” (Moodle)

Fri., Oct. 22 The Great Leap Forward
Read: Chen, Cheng & Lestz, 412-440

Mon., Oct. 25 Outbreak of the Cultural Revolution
Read: Spence, Ch. 22 “Cultural Revolution”

Wed., Oct. 27 The Red Guards
Read: Chen, Cheng & Lestz, 441-459

Fri., Oct. 29 Propaganda and Violence
Read: Schoenhals, Part I, A & B

Mon., Nov. 1 Go on Red, Stop on Green
Read: Schoenhals, Part II, C & D & E

Wed., Nov. 3 Sent Down
Read: Schoenhals, Part III, H & I

Fri., Nov. 5 Mao’s Final Years
Read: Spence, Ch. 23 “Reopening the Doors”

Mon., Nov. 8 “Emancipate the Mind, Seek Truth From Facts”
Read: Chen, Cheng & Lestz, 493-546

Wed., Nov. 10 The Four Modernizations and a Dramatic Departure
Read: Spence, Ch. 24 “Redefining Revolution”

Fri., Nov. 12 Tiananmen
Read: Lim, 1-59

Mon., Nov. 15 Fallout and Forgetting
Read: Lim, 60-181

Wed., Nov. 17 The Technocrats
Read: Andreas, “Triumph of the Red Engineers” (Moodle)

Fri., Nov. 19 The Republic of China, 1949-2014
Read: Wang, “A Bastion Created” (Moodle)

Mon., Nov. 22 One Country?
Read: Wasserstrom, “Hong Kong on the Brink?” ESSAY 3 DUE



Mon., Nov. 29 The Chinese Dream
Read: “Full Text from President Xi Jingping’s Speech” (Moodle)

Wed., Dec. 1 Xi Jinping Thought?

Fri., Dec. 3 Final Review
Read: Review and prepare questions


Courtesy and Participation

It is important to create a positive environment in the classroom. Treat each other with respect and courtesy. The use of mobile phones and tablets is not permitted. If using a laptop please avoid the (very real) temptation to browse or check social media. This is about respecting the instructor but it’s also about respecting each other and giving yourself the best chance possible to benefit from your time spent in class.

I will take attendance for this class. You can have three absences without penalty; after that your grade for the course will be adversely affected in proportion to how many days you were absent. Being late for class will be considered an absence. I strongly encourage you not to miss any classes at all. If you are part of a sports team please let me know as soon as possible.

If you have a serious illness or a family emergency this semester (fingers crossed that doesn’t happen) you should talk to Assistant Dean Mary Gulley (mary.gulley@centre.edu) in addition to informing me. She will arrange for classes to be excused if necessary. This is actually very helpful for you; should something come up, Dean Gulley can help manage communication with all your professors so that you will not have to worry about notifying each of us individually. If an emergency arises do not stress about this course, we will figure it out.

It is important that you are prepared for class. Your participation in class will be graded on your ability and willingness to discuss the readings, lecture content and your paper topics. I may occasionally ask you to write down reactions to the readings at the start of class to facilitate discussion, and I may collect these afterwards to review them.

There is one rule I hold sacred above all others:
There is no such thing as a stupid question.

The key to a good participation grade in this class lies in doing the reading, being active in class and being unafraid to ask questions of me and of each other.

Exam and Assignment Policies

This class will have a gobbet assignment, three essays of 1,500-1,800 words each, and a final exam. Guidelines will be posted on Moodle.

Late assignments will be heavily penalized, by at least 20% per day. Please note that any case of plagiarism will result in the incident being brought before the associate dean and will almost certainly result in a U for that assignment if not for the entire class. If you are at all unclear on what does or does not constitute plagiarism, please consult with me directly before submitting work. Plagiarism is very serious and can have an extremely deleterious effect on your academic career. Please be careful and do not be afraid to talk to me about any doubts you may have.

Accomodations for Special Circumstances

Students with physical impairments and learning disabilities will sometimes need accommodations to help them have an equal opportunity to learn. Whatever accommodations are provided, if any, should be the result of a discussion between the student and Assistant Dean Brian Cusato (b.cusato@centre.edu), who will then prepare a signed Accommodation Notice (a laminated sheet) for the student to show professors when an accommodation is necessary. In any course, the instructor must sign the back of the Accommodation Notice before any accommodation can take effect. It is the student’s responsibility to discuss any necessary accommodations with Dr. Cusato and to process completely the Accommodation Notice through his office.

Please discuss any accommodations you may need with me in the first week of class. This includes accommodations that do not affect you during regular class time but that will affect your participation in examinations.