China Today Syllabus

Hist 196: China Today
Dr. Daniel Meissner
Coughlin Hall 306  (228-3552)

Course Goals:
 Students who satisfactorily complete this seminar in Chinese history will demonstrate:
     · knowledge of  major political themes, economic trends, and social developments in contemporary China
     · a critical perspective on the historical development of contemporary China 
     · basic investigative and organizational skills required for competent historical research
     · advanced skills in analytical writing and oral presentation
     · advanced skills in critical analysis of primary and secondary materials
     · advanced conceptual abilities and independent research skills
     · knowledge of proper footnoting and bibliographic citation formats

C. Fred Bergsten, et. al.  China: The Balance Sheet: What the World Needs to Know Now About the
     Emerging Superpower
.  New York: Public Affairs, 2006.
Gordon Chang.  The Coming Collapse of China.  New York: Random House, 2001.
Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao.  Will the Boat Sink the Water?: The Life of China's Peasants
     Trans. Zhu Hong.  New York: Public Affairs, 2006.
Lionel Jensen and Timothy Weston, eds.  China's Transformations: The Stories Beyond the Headlines.
     New York:  Rowman & Littlefield, 2007.
Joshua Kurlantzick.  Charm Offensive: How China's Soft Power Is Transforming the World.  New Haven:
     Yale University Press, 2007.
Czeslaw Tubilewicz. Critical Issues in Contemporary China.  New York: Routledge Press, 2006.

Class Discussion:
Fundamental to the study of history is the recognition that knowledge is collaborative – but also contested.  Historians achieve insight and make advances by drawing upon and challenging  the work of their colleagues.  This course encourages students to engage in this "collaborative and contested" process as we examine a variety of readings about contemporary China.  Each student is expected to contribute insights, interpretations, perspectives, or questions on assigned readings in every class discussion.

This course is primarily designed to provide students a solid background in the prominent social, political and economic issues in contemporary China, and to challenge students to research a particular issue in greater detail through primary and secondary sources.  It is essential that sufficient time be allowed each week to carefully read and reflect upon the assigned readings, in order to help identify issues – and perspectives – that the student may pursue in the research paper.  Moreover, students should allow for additional time to acquire information on unfamiliar terms or concepts in order to fully comprehend or more accurately analyze the readings.  

Research Paper:
The core requirement of this course is the production of a major (20-30 page) research paper.  The paper will address a particular contemporary issue in Chinese history, propose an investigative thesis, and draw supportive evidence from primary and secondary sources.  It is expected to be informative, intellectually engaging, and analytically insightful – a representative example of the knowledge acquired and skills honed as advanced university students. 

Oral Presentation:
Students will improve their oral skills by presenting (not reading) their research papers during the last weeks of the class.  Presentations will be limited to no more than 15 minutes each.

The expectation for this course is that every student will be fully prepared for each class, and contribute to discussion through informed commentary or constructive inquiry.

Since this class meets only once each week, regular attendance is required.  Active participation in class discussion and projects is expected.  More than one absence may significantly affect the final grade.

Research Paper
Oral Presentation 

Students are expected to stay current in their readings, complete projects on time, participate in discussions, and abide by Marquette University's academic rules and regulations.

Special Accommodations:
Students who need special accommodations in order to meet any of the requirements of this course should speak to the instructor at the beginning of the semester.


Weekly Class Schedule and Readings

Week 1
 Tubilewicz, Critical Issues in Contemporary China, Chs. 2-5

Week 2
Tubilewicz, Critical Issues in Contemporary China, Chs. 6-9

Week 3
Bergsten, et. al.  China: The Balance Sheet

Week 4
Jensen and Weston, China's Transformations, "Introduction" & Chs. 1-4

Week 5
Jensen and Weston, China's Transformations, Chs. 5-9

Week 6
Jensen and Weston, China's Transformations, Chs. 10-14 & "Afterword"

Week 7
Chen and Wu, Will the Boat Sink the Water?

Week 8
Chang, The Coming Collapse of China, Chs. 1-6

Week 9
Chang, The Coming Collapse of China, Chs. 7-12

Week 10
Kurlantzick, Charm Offensive, Chs. 1-6

Week 11
Kurlantzick, Charm Offensive, Chs. 7-11

Weeks 12 through 15
Research paper presentations

Week 16
Final research paper presentations (if necessary); course summary