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China's Global History: 1500 to Present (HI970)

Module Leader

Dr Anne Gerritsen 

Context of Module
Module Aims
Intended Learning Outcomes
Illustrative Bibliography
Context of Module 

This module, taught in the Spring term, may be taken by students on the MA in History, the MA in Modern History, the MA in Global History, or any taught Master's student outside the History Department.

Module Aims

This module explores China’s role in a global context and China’s engagement with the outside world through time (1500 to the present day). It has been designed to serve as an optional second part to the core module for students taking the MA in Global History. For students having taken the Global History MA core module, which looks at theories and approaches, this module provides an in-depth focus on a single country. The module deals with themes such as globalisation past and present, economic connections through time, and the cultural interactions that follow from movements of people and objects. The module is organised thematically around China’s global interactions. Each of its themes can be explored either in relation to a specific period (depending on the cohort of students and their interests), or by comparative analysis of historical and contemporary topics. The module can stand alone and may be taken by students with no prior knowledge of China, but it also builds on undergraduate modules on China and global interactions already on offer in the History Department.

Intended Learning Outcomes
  • To introduce students to the vast subject of Chinese history and culture by exploring a single theme: China's engagement with global developments through overseas trade, or migration, or the introduction of Western philosophies and technologies from 1500 to the present day.
  • To offer an overview of and an insight into those aspects of Chinese culture that emerge from China's history and global connections.
  • To allow students to develop a focus of their own within each of the themes, depending on their interests and further research plans.

Week 1: China in Global History (this seminar will be rescheduled to a later date)

Week 2: Science and Technology between China and the West

Week 3: Art and exchange between China and Europe

Week 4: Christianity in China

Week 5: Medicine and modernity: the introduction of Western medicine in China

Week 6: Reading Week

Week 7: Approaches to China's Material Culture in Global Perspective

Week 8: Gender in China in early modern global perspective

Week 9: Gender and modern China

Week 10: Culture in China's Global History: topic to be confirmed

Illustrative Bibliography

Bailey, Gauvin Alexander. Art of the Jesuit Missions in Asia and Latin America (University of Toronto Press, 1999)

Barnes, Linda. Needles, Herbs, Gods, and Ghosts: China, Healing, and the West to 1848 (Harvard UP, 2005)

Brockey, Liam. Journey to the East: the Jesuit Mission to China, 1579-1724 (Harvard UP, 2007)

Fairbank, John King, ed. The Chinese World Order: Traditional China's Foreign Relations (Harvard UP, 1968)

Furth, Charlotte. A Flourishing Yin: Gender in China’s Medical History, 960-1665 (California UP, 1999)

Gernet, Jacques. A History of Chinese Civilization, trans. J. R. Foster, (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1982, pb. 1985, first French ed. 1972)

Gerth, Karl. China Made: Consumer Culture and the Creation of the Nation (Harvard UP, 2003)

Gordon, Stewart. When Asia was the World (Da Capo Press, 2007)

Hevia, James. Cherishing Men from Afar: Qing Guest Ritual and the Macartney Embassy of 1793 (Duke UP, 1995)

Huff, Toby. The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China, and the West (Cambridge UP, 2003).

Lee, Leo Ou-fan. Shanghai Modern: The Flowering of a New Urban Culture in China, 1930-1945 (Harvard UP, 1999)

Mungello, David. The Forgotten Christians of Hangzhou (Hawai’i UP, 1994).

Pierson, Stacey. Collectors, Collections, and Museums: the Field of Chinese Ceramics in Britain, 1560-1960 (P. Lang, 2007).

Spence, Jonathan. The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci (Viking, 1984)

Spence, Jonathan. The Search for Modern China (second ed. Norton, 1999)

Waley, Arthur. The Opium War Through Chinese Eyes (Allen & Unwin, 1958)


1 assessed essay of 5,000 words: the course is taught in weekly 2-hour seminars

Pudong Shanghai skyline


Seminar day


Seminar time 10:00-12:00
Seminar room H0.18