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China and the Human Sciences: 1600 to the Present (HI986)

Module Leader: Dr Howard Chiang
Office Hours: Tue & Wed, 10-11am, H0.16
Seminars: Tuesday, 3-5pm, H1.02
Handbook: Module Handbook (available soon)


Context of Module

This module, taught in the Spring term, can be taken by students on the MA in History, the MA in Modern History, the MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies, the MA in Global History, the MA in the History of Medicine or any taught Master's students outside the History Department.

Module Aims

Close study of major topics, themes, and problems in the history of the human and social sciences in China from 1600 to the present. Emphasis on key theoretical works and recent historical literature. Analytical angles include gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, emotions, human identity, objectivity, and population.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module the student should be able to:

  • Analyze and assess key problems, debates, theoretical paradigms, and historiographical patterns in the field of East Asian science, technology, and medicine across early modern and modern periods.
  • Appreciate the contributions made by an interdisciplinary group of scholars to the understanding of the East Asian past as both a coherent and diverse field of historical inquiry.
  • Acquire familiarity with the most up to date and/or influential secondary literatures on the history of knowledge production about the reciprocal relationship between 'China' and 'the human', and be able to place their significance in the broader trends of historiography.
  • Be able to identify regional similarities, differences, connections, divergences in East Asia, depending on the topic under discussion.
Outline Syllabus
  • Week 01: 7 Jan - Introduction: China, Technology, and the Big Question
  • Week 02: 14 Jan - Medicine
  • Week 03: 21 Jan - Race and Ethnicity
  • Week 04: 28 Jan - Cultural Pathology
  • Week 05: 4 Feb - Desire
  • Week 06: Reading Week
  • Week 07: 18 Feb - The Mind
  • Week 08: 25 Feb - Human Identity
  • Week 09: 4 Mar - Objectivity
  • Week 10: 11 Mar - Population, Morality, and Modernity
Illustrative Bibliography
  • James Pusey, China and Charles Darwin (Harvard University Press, 1983).
  • Francesca Bray, Technology and Gender: Fabrics of Power in Late Imperial China (University of California Press, 1997).
  • Charlotte Furth, A Flourishing Yin: Gender in China's Medical History, 960-1665 (University of California Press, 1999).
  • Judith Shapiro, Mao's War Against Nature: Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China (Cambridge University Press, 2001).
  • Nancy Chen, Breathing Spaces: Qigong, Psychiatry, and Healing in China (Columbia University Press, 2003).
  • Laurence Schneider, Biology and Revolution in Twentieth-Century China (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003).
  • Fa-ti Fan, British Naturalists in Qing China: Science, Empire and the Cultural Encounter (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004)
  • Ruth Rogaski, Hygienic Modernity: Meanings of Health and Disease in Treaty-Port China (University of California Press, 2004).
  • Benjamin Elman, On Their Own Terms: Science in China, 1550-1900 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005).
  • Laura Hostetler, Qing Colonial Enterprise: Ethnography and Cartography in Early Modern China (University of Chicago Press, 2005).
  • Danian Hu, China and Albert Einstein: The Reception of the Physicist and His Theory in China, 1917-1979 (Harvard University Press, 2005).
  • Kim Taylor, Chinese Medicine in Early Communist China, 1945-1963: A Medicine of Revolution (Routledge, 2005).
  • Yung-chen Chiang, Social Engineering and the Social Sciences in China, 1919-1949 (Cambridge University Press, 2006).
  • Susan Greenhalgh, Just One Child: Science and Policy in Deng's China (University of California Press, 2008).
  • Larissa Heinrich, The Afterlife of Images: Translating the Pathological Body between China and the West (Duke University Press, 2008).
  • Wendy Larson, From Ah Q to Lei Feng: Freud and Revolutionary Spirit in 20th Century China (Stanford University Press, 2008).
  • Sigrid Schmalzer, The People's Peking Man: Popular Science and Human Identity in Twentieth-century China (University of Chicago Press, 2008).
  • Florence Hsia, Sojourners in a Strange Land: Jesuits and Their Scientific Missions in Late Imperial China (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009).
  • Angela Ki Che Leung, Leprosy in China: A History (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009).
  • Thomas Mullaney, Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China (University of California Press, 2010).
  • Arthur Kleinman et al., Deep China: The Moral Life of the Person, What Anthropology and Psychiatry Tell Us about China Today (University of Caifornia Press, 2011).
  • Tong Lam, A Passion for Facts: Social Surveys and the Construction of the Chinese Nation-State, 1900-1949 (University of California Press, 2011).
  • Howard Chiang, ed., Transgender China (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).
  • Xiaoping Fang, Barefoot Doctors and Western Medicine in China (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2012).
  • Francesca Bray, Technology, Gender and History in Imperial China: Great Transformations Reconsidered (Routledge, 2013).

Students are assessed on the basis of one 5000-word essay due during the first week of the Summer Term.