Understanding Modern China:
Goals, Methods and Expectations


1.    To ask and help students formulate their own answers to the question "How and When did China finally become a Modern Nation?"

2.    To teach students to think critically about major issues in the history of Twentieth Century China.

3.    To teach students to distinguish between conclusions and supporting evidence and between well substantiated and poorly substantiated interpretation.

4.    To teach students to formulate their own historical interpretations and to marshal evidence in support of them.



1.    The primary method of instruction is class discussion.

2.    It is repeatedly demonstrated in the course of class discussions that every work of history, even a textbook, is basically and inevitably interpretive.

3.    Students are shown how to locate historical interpretation and how to evaluate historical interpretation on the basis of evidence.



1.    Students will be able to demonstrate, orally and in writing, a clear understanding of each major issue in the history of Twentieth Century China emphasized in the course.

2.    Students will take the time to reflect on what they read and view, and they will express their reflections clearly and carefully in class discussion, in journal entries and in analytical essays.


Evaluation of Student Progress

1.    Daily evaluation in class discussion of the student's ability to understand and analyze critically what he or she has read, seen or heard.

2.    Bi-weekly reading quizzes over the required reading.

3.    Three journal responses, one for each part of the documentary China: A Century of Revolution

4.    Two in-class essays and a final examination.


Required Texts

Jonathan Spence, The Search for Modern China.   Second edition.
Orville Schell, "China: Humiliation and the Olympics," The New York Review of Books, Vol. 55, No. 13 (August 14, 2008).


Films, DVDs and Web Sites

China: A Century of Revolution (3 DVDS)

Part One: China in Revolution 1911-1949
Part Two: The Mao Years 1949-1976
Part Three: Born Under the Red Flag 1976-1997

China: A Country Study (Library of Congress)
A History of China by Wolfram Eberhard (an e-text)


Test Return Policy

1.    All in-class essays will be returned to students within approximately one week of the test date.   However, no essays will be returned until every student in the course has taken the test.

2.    The essay, together with teacher comments and evaluation, will be returned permanently to the student.

3.    The results of the multiple-choice reading quizzes will be announced to the student, and each student will be invited to review the questions and answers individually with the instructor.   Although the multiple-choice question sheets will not be returned permanently to the student, they remain available for examination by the student upon request.

4.    The final examination will be kept on file by the instructor for a period of at least six weeks following the exam.   Any student wishing to look over his or her exam during that six week period is encouraged to do so.


Contact Information

Office Hours: Semester I:    Daily: 9:20 - 10:25 a.m.; 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.      Office Phone: 816 936-1408
Office: J206.Semester II:   Daily: 9:20 - 10:25 a.m.; 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.      e-mail address: carl@schulkin.org