The search for Modern China: the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1636-1912) Dynasties
Time: 15:00 - 17:00
Location: Keeley Street
This course has now started
Course Code: HWH100
Duration: 10 sessions (over 10 weeks)
What is the course about?
This course follows the trajectory of Chinese imperial history of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and the Qing dynasty (1636-1912) to help you gain a sharper understanding of China’s long and often tortuous journey in a globalising world.
Only by scrutinising these tumultuous centuries can we get a full sense of how China’s current problems have arisen, and of what resources—intellectual, economic, and emotional—the Chinese can call upon to solve them.
The focus of this course is on China’s odyssey from empire towards ‘modern’ nation—one that is both integrated and receptive, fairly sure of its own identity yet able to join others on equal terms in the quest for new markets, new technologies, new ideas—as well as its many glorious achievements and the disastrous consequences when the journey went wrong.
What will we cover?
Inevitably, such an analysis must give priority to politics—that is, how China’s past rulers and Chinese critics of those rulers have sought repeatedly over this long time span to formulate strategies that would strengthen their country’s borders, streamline bureaucratic institutions, keep free from foreign interference, and sharpen the rigour of the intellectual tools needed to analyse the efficacy and the morality of political actions.
However, in order to gain a more comprehensive picture, we will also examine many other aspects of Chinese history, including commerce, culture, philosophy, religion, women and gender, the family and kinship system, etc.
All of these aspects of Chinese society can be seen in various forms from the Ming onward, have brought deep changes to China, and have endured to the present time.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- have an understanding of the key struggles and structural transformations of China over the past centuries
- identify the fundamental challenges faced by the imperial states of the Ming and Qing, and outline the various responses to those challenges
- gain an understanding of many other aspects of Chinese society and culture where drastic changes have occurred such as religion, women and gender, the family and kinship system, etc.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an ‘introductory’ level course and does not assume any previous study or reading. An open mind and a willingness to listen and to think about views with which you are not familiar or may not agree are more important than any previous knowledge or experience in the subject matter.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The course will consist of tutor presentations, some audio and video clips as appropriate, some in-class readings for discussion, as well as opportunities for questions and comments. I will also recommend further readings for those who are keen to delve deeper.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
There are no extra costs apart from your own note-taking materials.
Optional background reading:
- Rana Mitter (2008). Modern China: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press.
- Jonathan D. Spence (2013). The Search for Modern China. 3rd ed. W. W. Norton & Company.
- Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, ed. (2016). The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China. Oxford University Press.- Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, ed. (2022). The Oxford History of Modern China. Oxford University Press.
- John K. Fairbank and Denis C. Twitchett, eds. (1978-). The Cambridge History of China. 15 vols. Cambridge University Press.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
HWH101 Chinese history taster: the Republican (1912-1949) and Communist (1949-) Eras
HWH102 The Search for Modern China: the Republican (1912-1949) and Communist (1949-) Eras.