Description

Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30 ~ 10:50,  Kauke 243

The course is about history only in so far as “The struggle of man against power”, in the words of Czech novelist Milan Kundera, “is the struggle of memory against forgetting”. It exposes a chronology which may very well be called in to question as a mythology to narrate the China of the twentieth-century dating back to the Republican Revolution (1911), the May Fourth Movement (1919), and the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) to save the Chinese culture from itself. This course revisits key events in China in the context of global communism that is both a crisis and enlightenment in Chinese consciousness. In addition to memoirs, biographies and works of fiction, reading list also includes writings by Hegel and Marx to understand China’s complex relations to the Enlightenment. The course addresses the questions of modernity and world history as powerful processes to redefine the ideas of social justice and democracy. [AH], [GE], [SJ].

The objective is for everybody to develop a handle to modern Chinese history short of making it a history course. As John Ruskin (1819-1900) said, “Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts, the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others, but of the three the only trustworthy one is the last”. For this reason, we all need to come up with our own approaches to and interpretations of the manuscripts that are windows into the spiritual life of modern China.