Department of History
Modern China: Fiction and History 

(HIST 325-01)
Syllabus for Fall 2016

MW 12:30-13:45 / ICC 112

text updated as of  31 Aug 2016

Requirements Texts Lecture Schedule Policies


H.R. Spendelow  潘克俊 

ICC 607;  M 15:00-17:00; R 15:30-17:00; and by appointment

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Course content:
his course takes up an investigation of social problems and political tensions in China from the 18th through the 20th centuries, as seen through the medium of literature. Through a close reading of selected novels and short stories, we will explore how China's intelligentsia has used fiction as a mode of social criticism, to present their perceptions of China's problems and to offer possible solutions.

    The course meets as a colloquium twice a week in small-group discussion format. No knowledge of the Chinese language is assumed, but students are expected to have completed History of China II (HIST 123-01) or its equivalent. 

    The course meets as a colloquium/seminar twice a week in small-group discussion format.

 Course requirements:

  1. preparation of readings for each meeting
  2. active participation in each discussion, including reporting on one's own reading and critical commentary on the contributions of other class members
  3. [35%]
  4. three analytical discussions of a  short selection of your own choosing (c. 2-3 pp. each), due 19 Sep,  17 Oct, and 21 Nov [10% each]
  5. a research paper on a topic of your own choosing: topic statement due 12 Sep; prospectus due 12 Oct; final version due 05 Dec [35%]
  6. there are no exams in this class (neither mid-term nor final)

  Course objectives:

  1. to nurture a sense of informed empathy with the backgrounds, attitudes, and expectations which the various participants brought to this historical moment, as a means of understanding their decisions and actions;
  2. to use the specific study of this period in Chinese history as a means for developing more general skills in the discipline of historical analysis, as elaborated in the Department's statement of mission and learning goals; and
  3. to encourage the universally applicable and necessary skills of critical thinking and persuasive presentation of reasoned argument.

Required texts:

  1. Cao Xueqin, The Story of the Stone (Dream of the Red Chamber), trans. David Hawkes.  Vol 1 only. Penguin, 1973
  2. Wu Jingzi, The Scholars, trans. Xianyi and Gladys Yang.  Columbia, 1992
  3. Ba Jin, Family, trans. Sidney Shapiro.  Waveland, 1972/1989
  4. Mao Dun [Mao Tun], Midnight. Fredonia Books, 2001
  5. Lao She, Rickshaw, trans. Jean M. James.  UP Hawai'i, 1979

Schedule of lectures and readings:

Assignments are of varied lengths, so plan ahead and pace yourself for the entire semester.

Click here for the current schedule


  1. Failure to complete any of the Course Requirements listed above will result in automatic failure for the course.
  2. Students are expected to be fully familiar and compliant with the principles and practices outlined in the Georgetown University Honor Code.
  3. As of July 2014, "Instructional activities will be maintained during University closures.  Faculty members should prepare for the possibility of an interruption of face-to-face instruction by establishing a policy within the course syllabus to maintain instructional continuity in the case of an unforeseen disruption. During a campus “closure,” the regular class time schedule must be honored by all campus departments so that students will remain available for those faculty members who wish to maintain continuous academic progress through synchronous distance instruction.Stay tuned as I figure out how best to implement "synchronous distance instruction"...