SOCS 652
Witness to History: Modern China through the Eyes of Survivors and Writers

Vera Schwarz

This course will explore key events in modern Chinese history as reflected in the writings of survivors-witnesses. The goal will be to explore how does the act of "witnessing" take for in the mind of writers who were part of a historical occurrence of choose various fictional, poetic, or historiographical strategies to bring themselves closer to the experience of the past.  One need not have previous familiarity with modern China to be able to reflect on how various writers--both Chinese and Western---came to understand history better by bringing alive through concrete empathy with survivors and witness.

Students will be expected to write one paper each week--2-3pp typed!--and e-mail to the instructor and  other students in the class the night before the seminar ! This means that half the students (assigned at the start of the course) will e-mail their weekly essay on Sunday night before 9 PM and the other half on Tues. night before 9 PM! These essays can take any form that allows students to reflect on the readings in a personally meaningful fashion--provided they engage the text concretely! Use/cite some specific portion of the text! These essays will provide the foundation for class discussion. In the weekly essays as well as at the beginning of each students will be encouraged to ask specific questions about events or personages in Chinese history that need elucidation to make class discussion more effective.

Each student will also be responsible for a short research essay (10-12pp) on his/her own topic. Bibliographies for this essay will be due July 18th!. The last week of the course is dedicated to short, in class presentation of the research project. Final essay will be due August 15th--NO LATE PAPERS ACCEPTED!.

June 27

Living through the trauma of the Chinese Revolution
In class movie: "To Live"-- discussion about the "art of witnessing"

June 29

Comparative Definitions of  "Survivor Witness"

Readings: S. Felman and D. Laub, "Testimony" pp.xii-74 (Packet)
V. Schwarcz, "Circling the Void" in History and Memory (packet)
J. Spence, "In Search for Modern China, " chpt.1

July 6

How historians imagine the past from bottom up?

Readings, J. Spence, "The Death of Woman Wang", Preface, and Chapters 1, 3, 4, 5, and                                                 Epilogue

J. Spence, "In Search of Modern China,"  Chapter  2,3   

July 11

Re-imagining China's Imperial History from the Top Down

Readings: A. Min, "Empress Orchid,"  chapters 1 to 11.
J. Spence, "In Search" chapters 9, 10

July 13

Re-imagining the Chinese Family and Nation in Times of Crisis

Readings, A. Min, "Empress" chapters 12 to end
J. Spence, " In Search" chapters 10, 11
In class movie excerpt: "Raise the Red Lantern"

July 18

Revolution and the Family in early 20th century China

Readings: Jung Chang, "Wild Swans" Chapters 1-9
J. Spence, "In Search" chapters 12, 15

July 20

Building a New Sense of Nationhood and of Self

Readings,: Ye Zhaoyan, "Nanjing 1937,"  chapters 1-5
Spence, "In Search"  chapter 16

July 25

Living Through War

Readings, Ye, "Nanjing" Chapter 6 to end, including author's postscript
In class movie excerpt, "In the Name of the Emperor"

July 27

Communist Revolution Redefines Self and Society

Readings: Chang, "Wild Swans"  Chapters 10-18
J. Spence, "In Search 18, 19

August 1

Maoist Atrocities Remembered by Victimized Victimizers

Readings:  Chang, "Wild Swans" 19-28
Spence, "In Search,"  chapter 21

August 3

Maoist Atrocities Scar the Survivor's Minds

Readings: Ha Jin, "The Crazed"  chapters 1-5, 12-20,, 26-35
In class documentary excerpt: "The Mao Years"

August 8 Student Research Presentations
August 10 Student Research Presentations