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China – The Second Sino-Japanese War and Maoist China, 1937-76

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About this Course

About the Course

In this course, Professor Yang-Wen Zheng (University of Manchester) explores the history of China from the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45) to the death of Mao Zedong in 1976. In the first module, we think about what China was like on the eve of the Japanese invasion of 1937. After that, in the second module, we think about why the Communists won the Chinese Civil War, before turning in the third module to consider the challenges faced by the Communists when they came to power in 1949. In the fourth, fifth and sixth modules, we focus on three distinct periods in the Mao era – (i) the First Five-Year Plan (1953-7); (ii) the Great Leap Forward (1958-62); and (iii) the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) – before turning in the seventh and final module to consider whether life in China was better in 1936 or 1976.

Note on names:

Chinese cities are referred to by their modern names, even if another name was used in the period being discussed, e.g. ‘Guangzhou’ instead of ‘Canton’.

Individual figures are referred to by their most familiar name, e.g. ‘Chiang Kai-shek’ instead of ‘Chiang Chung-cheng’, ‘Chiang Chieh-shih’ or ‘Jiang Jieshi’. Where no familiar form exists, we have followed the usage of Jonathan Fenby’s ‘Penguin History of Modern China’ (2008).

About the Lecturer

Yangwen Zheng is Professor of Chinese History at the University of Manchester. Born and raised in China, she was educated at Oberlin College and the University of Cambridge, before working at the University of Pennsylvania (2002-04) and the National University of Singapore (2004-06). Trained as an economic historian with a focus on Ming-Qing maritime trade and patterns/cultures of consumption, she has been fascinated with the foreign goods/things that went into China and the ways in which they became Chinese or indigenised. She is the editor (with Richard Madsen of UC San Diego) of the "Alternative Sinology" series published by Manchester University Press and an editorial board member for Modern Asian Studies and for the Journal of Social and Economic History of the Orient. Her recent publications include Ten Lessons in Modern Chinese History (2018).