Witness to History: Modern China through the Eyes of Survivors and Writers
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!.
Living through the trauma of the Chinese
Comparative Definitions of "Survivor Witness"
Readings: S. Felman and D. Laub, "Testimony"
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
Re-imagining China's Imperial History from the Top Down
Readings: A. Min, "Empress Orchid," chapters 1
Re-imagining the Chinese Family and Nation in Times of Crisis
Readings, A. Min, "Empress" chapters 12 to end
Revolution and the Family in early 20th century China
Readings: Jung Chang, "Wild Swans" Chapters 1-9
Building a New Sense of Nationhood and of Self
Readings,: Ye Zhaoyan, "Nanjing 1937,"
Living Through War
Readings, Ye, "Nanjing"
Chapter 6 to end, including author's postscript
Communist Revolution Redefines Self and Society
Readings: Chang, "Wild Swans" Chapters 10-18
Maoist Atrocities Remembered by Victimized Victimizers
Readings: Chang, "Wild Swans" 19-28
Maoist Atrocities Scar the Survivor's Minds
Readings: Ha Jin, "The Crazed" chapters 1-5,
|August 8||Student Research Presentations|
|August 10||Student Research Presentations|