ASIAN 355 - Revolution in Life: How Communism Changed China
Section: 001
Term: FA 2017
Subject: Asian Studies (ASIAN)
Department: LSA Asian Languages & Cultures
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Is it possible for ideas to profoundly change the world? Observing the transformations that occurred in Chinese culture and society as a result of the idea of communism in the twentieth century, the answer certainly appears to be “yes.” In 1921, a group of inspired young intellectuals founded the Chinese Communist Party in Shanghai, which was at the time China’s most cosmopolitan and fashionable city. From this point, communist ideals slowly spread across China – by way of underground communities and grassroots rural campaigns – leading to a nation-wide civil war that ended in the establishment of a new country, the People’s Republic of China, in 1949, which still governs China today. What were the dreams and ideals that motivated China’s communist leaders? What made common people support communism? How did life for the average Chinese person change after 1949? Why were women such an important part of Chinese communist culture, and how did their lives change as a result of the communist revolution? What is the role of the Communist Party in Chinese people’s lives today?

In this course, we explore the different human experiences of communist revolution in China, asking what communism meant to Chinese people from different parts of society at different periods of the twentieth century and how communism changed various aspects of Chinese culture, including daily life, language, arts and entertainment, education, public space, and social relationships. Students will be asked to work interdisciplinarily in this course, using historical, literary, artistic, and anthropological texts, as well as personal memoirs. Emphasis will be placed on treating culture as a multifaceted phenomenon that stretches across traditional disciplinary boundaries.

This course introduces students to research methods, primary sources, and analytical approaches used in the Humanities and the Social Sciences. Students are encouraged to view culture as itself an interdisciplinary problem, which requires inquiry into political thought, social life, as well as entertainment and the arts.

Course Requirements:

Attendance and in-class activities (15%) Reading Quizzes (15%) Interview Project (10%) Three Short Papers (30%) Memoir Project (10%) Final Exam (20%)

Students complete an Interview Project in which they learn about and carry out an important method of social science research -- the personal life interview. In addition, for the Memoir Project, students read and carry out analytical reflection on a personal memoir, reflecting on this as another type of knowledge production that intersects between the social sciences and the humanities. Finally, in each of their Three Short Papers, students are asked to reflect on questions from different historical fields: historical, anthropological, literary, and cultural studies. Through the required course readings and viewings, students engage in analysis of two feature and two documentary films, two pieces of Chinese literature in translation, and a Chinese dance drama film, as well as historical and anthropological writings about political policies, aesthetic movements, and everyday life.

Intended Audience:

Undergraduate students in Asian Studies, International Studies, Political Science, Sociology, History, and Anthropology.

Class Format:

Two 90-minute meetings weekly, comprised of equal parts lecture and discussion. A range of activities will be carried out in class, in addition to lecture and discussion.

ASIAN 355 - Revolution in Life: How Communism Changed China
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
TuTh 5:30PM - 7:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

We will start discussing the Karl book on Sept 26th, so you should plan for it to arrive around Sept 22nd or earlier.
ISBN: 0822347954
Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World. ; A Concise History., Author: Rebecca E. Karl., Publisher: Duke University Press 2010
ISBN: 0520282493
The gender of memory : rural women and China's collective past, Author: Gail Hershatter. 2014
Other Textbook Editions OK.
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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