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Modern China

History 373 The History of Modern China

Spring 2019 Honors 167 T-Th 1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Professor Shelton Woods

The History of Modern China is an upper division history course focused on twentieth century China. We will also use the literary genre of biography/autobiography in exploring this topic. Also using a multidisciplinary approach, we will study China’s Modern History from its social, economic, religious, and political viewpoints. After successful completion of this course, a student will be able to:

  • Articulate how China transformed into a state that now dominates the world economically and politically
  • Understand the need for a multidisciplinary approach in studying the past and present
  • Explain the tragic consequences of internal and external wars that buffeted China through much of the twentieth century
  • Explain the role of biography/autobiography as a historical approach

Course Success

Meet with Dr. Woods

You are encouraged to with Dr. Woods at least once during the semester. You can make an appointment at the time that fits your schedule. My office hours are Tuesday, 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Wednesday 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Appointments are for fifteen minutes. My office is in the Honors College Building (Room 176).

If you have any problems with setting up your appointment on your own you can call me at 426-3349 or email me

I-Clicker Device

An i-Clicker instrument must be purchased for this course (they are available at the bookstore). You must bring your clicker to every class. I will demonstrate how to register your i-Clicker during the first day of class.

During class you must only use your i-Clicker device for answering quizzes or when attendance is taken. Inputting quiz answers or attendance for someone else who is not in the class will be treated as academic dishonesty with the lightest penalty being failure of the class, and the most severe being expulsion from the university. Students are responsible to check their quiz score after each quiz and immediately contact me if there is no grade noted for that quiz. If a student disputes a particular grade or if there is no grade noted in the Canvas grade book for a quiz, the student must contact me within a day of the quiz. I do not give make up quizzes. However, every student is given an extra 15 points in case you miss a quiz. Two absences are acceptable (no make up quiz is given if you are absent). Every absence after two absences reduces your final quiz score by 40 points.

I-Clicker Device

A good portion of your grade is based on class participation. That includes sending three questions each week that will lead to a good discussion. It also means that you actively participate in weekly class discussions.

Final Paper

You will have an opportunity to research and write a short biography or autobiography. This will be an eight to ten page, double spaced paper due at the end of the semester. Specifics regarding the research and writing of the paper will be given in class.

I-Clicker Device

You will have an opportunity to hone your writing skills by writing four short essays this semester. These essays are to be analytical (not summaries). They are to be typed in Word, double-spaced, and between 280 and 300 words. A rubric for the grading of these essays will be provided in class. You will be able to drop your lowest essays grade.

Laptop Computer and Mobile Devices

The use of laptop computers or any mobile device is not permitted in the class. Your final grade will be lowered a letter grade if you are caught texting during class.


This course is also on Canvas. You can find similar information on that site as you do on this one. However, throughout the semester I’ll post announcements on the Canvas site and you will also be able to see your grades on that site.


Grades: Class Quizzes: 50% + Class Essays: 20% + Final Paper 15% + Participation 15% = 100%

The letter to percentage grade is as follows:

A = 100 – 94
A – = 93 – 90
B+ = 89 – 87
B = 86 – 84
B- = 83 -80
C+ = 79 – 77
C = 76 – 74
C- = 73 – 70
D+ = 69 – 67
D = 66 – 64
D- = 63 – 60
F = 59 – 0

I won’t “give” you a grade at the end of the semester, you will earn the grade that you receive. There is objective criteria that determines what grade you earn. These things include your quiz scores and your exam scores. However, there will also be subjective elements when it comes time for me to record your grade. For example, attendance is absolutely key and will be noted. As noted above, more than two absences will affect your final grade (each subsequent absence will reduce your final quiz score by 40 points). You must properly participate in class discussions.


This will be somewhat of a hybrid course with online lectures and in-class discussion groups.

Week One

(January 15 and 17)

Introductory Lectures
Thursday read Wild Swans Introduction through chapter one (pages 9 – 42)

Week Two

(January 22 and 24)

Read Wild Swans Chapters two through six (pages 43 – 139)

Watch The Intellectual Revolution

Watch The Birth of the CCP

Week Three

(January 29 and 31) First Essay Due

Read Wild Swans Chapters seven through eleven (pages 140-219)

Watch The Rise of Mao

Watch The Anti-Japanese Front

Week Four

(February 5 and 7)

Read Wild Swans Chapters twelve through seventeen (pages 220-307)

Watch The KMT 1938-1941

The KMT and World War II

Mao in Yanan

Week Five

(February 12 and 14)

Read Wild Swans Chapters eighteen though 22 (pages 308 – 405)

Watch The Founding of the PRC

Mao and Stalin

Week Six

(February 19 and 21) Second essay due

Read Wild Swans Chapters twenty-three through epilogue (pages 406 – 508)

Watch The Korean War Part One

The Korean War Part Two

China and the Vietnam War 1954

Week Seven

(February 26 and 28) Final Paper Topic Due

Read Private Life (Preface through chapter four) pages 1 – 65

Watch PRC and the CCP Structure

PRC and the Party Structure

Government Structure

Week Eight

(March 5 and 7)

Read Private Life Chapters five through twenty (pages 66 – 202)

Watch PRC and Urban Policies

PRC and Rural China

Week Nine

(March 12 and 14) Third essay due

Read Private Life Chapters twenty-one through forty (pages 203 – 327)

Watch The Agricultural Producers Cooperatives

The Anti-Rightest Campaign


Week Ten

(March 26 and 28) Final Paper Bibliography Due

Read Private Life Chapters forty-one through sixty (Pages 328 – 463)

Watch “Leading up to the GLF;” “Lushan and the GLF

Week Eleven

(April 2 and 4)

Read Private Life Chapters sixty-one through ninety-two (Pages 464-638)

Watch “After the GLF;” “Mao’s Socialist Education Movement

Week Twelve

(April 9 and 11) Fourth essay due

Read China Road Introduction through chapter six (Pages xiii-75)

Watch “The Approaching Storm;” “The Cultural Revolution

Week Thirteen

(April 16 and 18) Final Paper Outline due

Read China Road Chapters seven through thirteen (Pages 76 – 164)

Watch “Restoration of Some Order;” “The Sino-Soviet Crises

Week Fourteen

(April 23 and 25)

Read China Road Chapters fourteen through eighteen (Pages 165 – 226)

Watch “China and Cambodia;” “The Lin Biao Affair

Week Fifteen

(April 30 May 2) Final Paper Due

Read China Road Chapters nineteen through twenty-three (Pages 227 – 297)

Watch “Nixon in China;” “The Death of Mao


Textbooks for The History of Modern China (Fall 2016)

Your textbooks are also on reserved at the Albertson’s Library and you can check them out for one hour at a time. This is in case you have difficulty paying for the course textbooks.

China Road by Rob Gifford book coverChina Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power by Rob Gifford

“A crash course in Chinese history, geography, economy, and society…From afar, China looks like an emerging superpower, but Rob Gifford contends that up close it is `more fragile than it appears.’…He listens to the voice of the Chinese people.” Review from the Washington Post

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

“Her family chronicle resembles a popular novel that stars strong, beautiful women and provides cameo roles for famous men….But Wild Swans is no romance. It’s a story…about the survival of a Chinese family through a century of disaster” The New Yorker

The Private Life of Chairman Mao book overThe Private Life of Chairman Mao by Dr. Li Zhisui

“From 1954 until Mao Zedong’s death 22 years later, Dr. Li Zhisui was the Chinese ruler’s personal physician. For most of these years, Mao was in excellent health; thus he and the doctor had time to discuss political and personal matters. Dr. Li recorded many of these conversations in his diaries, as well as in his memory. In this book, Dr. Li vividly reconstructs his extraordinary time with Chairman Mao.”