HISTORY 415 - Law and Society in Late Imperial and Modern China
Fall 2023, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: History (HISTORY)
Department: LSA History
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Junior or senior standing. No prior knowledge of China or Chinese required.
May not be repeated for credit.
Rackham Information:
Rackham credit requires additional work.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/28/23 - 12/6/23 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


The Chinese legal order is one of the great legal traditions that has not only exercised a tremendous influence on other legal systems in East Asia for centuries, but still exerts a considerable influence in China today. In recent years, new research methods and improved access to archival materials have shed new light on many aspects of Chinese legal history and forced scholars to revise many assumptions and ideas. Using selected readings of secondary and primary sources, as well as through audiovisual materials and fiction, this course will explore major topics in Chinese legal history. The course will be divided into three distinct segments:

  1. introduction to basic concepts and institutions in the Chinese legal order and how Chinese and foreigners have perceived Chinese law;
  2. how the Chinese legal order was implemented during the last imperial dynasty, the Qing (1644-1911); and
  3. how Chinese law and institutions were transformed from the mid-19th through the 20th centuries.

Students who have taken the course should have acquired a nuanced understanding of the Chinese legal order and its cultural and social context. They should also be familiar with major issues in the historiography of Chinese legal history.

Course Requirements:

Participation (30%) and three papers (total 70%) submitted at the end of each segment: a short essay; one of 5-7 pages; and one of 10-12 pages. Participation includes reading assigned texts, regular attendance in class, active participation in class discussions and prompt submission of assignments. Topics should be chosen in consultation with the instructor. Most of the readings will be available on Electronic Reserve.

Intended Audience:


  1. Undergraduates considering a postgraduate degree in history, social science or law;
  2. Graduate students in history

Class Format:

Three hours per week in seminar format where students will discuss readings and make presentations


HISTORY 415 - Law and Society in Late Imperial and Modern China
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23

Textbooks/Other Materials

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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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