Modern East Asia I - China Rising


China is in the midst of an unprecedented transformation from centrally-planned communism to liberal capitalism. Its explosive economic growth is legendary, but its cultural and political changes are less well understood. In this course, we will look at China's recent history in an effort to understand China's present and future: what's really going on in China?


Course Description:

"Modern East Asia I (Fall Term) will deal with the history of modern China, including the disputed and formerly disputed provinces of Tibet, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao. After a brief survey of Chinese history prior to the Chinese Civil War, the course will focus primarily on the 58-year history of the People’s Republic of China. While Mao’s China will be studied at length, emphasis will be placed on the changes occurring in China since Mao’s death in an effort to understand 21st century China as it continues its rapid transformation. Modern East Asia I may be taken as a single-term elective."

Course requirements will likely include regular blogging in response to readings and online assignments, periodic short assessments, a group project, two short papers and an exam. Mr. Nicholson will work with other teachers of history electives to ensure that the difficulty level of this course is comparable to other fall term history electives, and may modify the course requirements as necessary to ensure that this is the case.


Pudong: Shanghai's business district, home of China's stock market, and future site of the tallest building in the world, this was rural land used for growing rice as recently as twenty years ago. Pudong is a symbol of China's explosive economic growth. Is this rate of growth sustainable in the long term? Is the rest of China benefitting from these developments? Tien An Men: This famous image of a Chinese man standing in the way of the tanks in an attempt to prevent the Tien An Men Square Massacre in 1989 is a reminder that not everything in China is changing at the same rate. Can China's model of slow and gradual political change continue to work in the 21st century?