Political and Social Thought in Modern China

Course Code
HIEA 3141
Bradly Reed
Associate Professor

At the beginning of the 20th century with the 2,000 year old imperial system of government collapsing around them, Chinese intellectuals and political activists began searching for an ideology that would explain the reasons for the country’s dire circumstances while at the same time offering a means of transforming an ancient empire into a modern nation. Socialism, syndicalism, communism, liberal democracy, anarchism and refurbished Confucianism all had vocal adherents who participated in an ongoing debate amidst continuing social crises, poverty, civil war and foreign invasion. 100 years later, even though economic reforms have transformed China, intellectuals and political players are still grappling with many of the same issues; the relationship between state and society, human rights and free expression, and China’s place among the world’s nations, to name but a few. This course explores these and related issues by considering the intellectual and political debates and conflicts within their historical and cultural contexts. The course combines lectures, readings, films, and discussions. Course grades are based on daily participation, a mid-term, and a take-home final.