Week 8: Communist Survival

Oct. 12 – Oct. 18

Check that you have completed the Assignments for Week 7

Module 3: Envisioning State and Society (week 3/3)

This week I want to make things a little bit lighter for all of us – so no Exploration Packs, but hopefully you’ll find the reading a bit lighter: just one chapter from the textbook, one short primary source document, and the rest is background or optional, at your discretion.

I hope this helps to create a bit of a “Fall Break” effect. (It’s usually just one day and doesn’t affect this class as we don’t gather on Monday, but I think nobody will complain too much? If you feel under-served, please email me for more readings, I will happily send you a reading list!)

Reminder: Remember you have two “free passes” for the weekly blog posts across the semester; use them wisely.

Note that this week concludes Module 3, so start thinking how you will demonstrate what you learned about the period 1911-1937 (weeks 6, 7 and 8) in your third Show and Tell project, which is scheduled for submission on Oct. 23. The procedure will be the same as always:

  • pitch a proposal on the Cloud Lounge
  • suggestions for response papers will be provided, but creative assignments are strongly encouraged
  • you have one “Free Pass” for the five Show and Tell projects
  • you can rewrite/resubmit to your heart’s content
  • submit a link to the blog post

I will alert you when the page with details is ready and the Cloud Lounge space to pitch your proposal is open, in the course of week 8.

Table of Contents

Background

Following the 1927 purge of Communists from the Guomindang (Nationalist Party) (see Week 7), the communists tried to regroup. Some went underground in big cities, and in particular in Shanghai they could try to hide their activities in the international concessions, where different laws were in operation. Others chose to move beyond the reach of the GMD troops into remote rural areas. The most famous of these became the Jiangxi Soviet (a “soviet” meaning “council”) in southern China, under the leadership of Mao Zedong.

It operated from 1931 effectively as an independent state, but in 1934 Chiang Kaishek sent in his GMD troops to exterminate this communist stronghold. In a daring move, the CCP decided to make a run for it, by escaping the long way round via the southwest to the north. The journey took just over a year, and only about 10% of the force that left the Jiangxi Soviet reached Yan’an, after many thousands of miles trekking through very difficult terrain, and constantly pursued by GMD troops. (“A revolution is not a dinner party,” as Mao said famously, not about this event in particular but you get the idea.)

Much like “Dunkirk”, the “Long March”, as it became known, is a retreat turned into a victory in subsequent cultural memory and historiography.

Why does this matter? The communist party was, once again, nearly snuffed out in China, and this really was an exceptional, daring strategy and took incredible guts and stamina to bring to a successful conclusion. The people who survived this experience formed an incredible bond of close camaraderie, and the leaders went on to serve in the highest positions in the government of the People’s Republic, and the Party, until their death.

But in the years after the founding of the People’s Republic, the Long March took on a life of its own through propaganda. The event was commemorated in various art forms (plays, paintings, etc.), and in times of adversity, the Long March can be dragged out from the stock of “ideology in reserve”, with the underlying message that “our forebears in the CCP did this, our sacrifice now is nothing in comparison!” (See for instance the rhetoric surrounding the trade war with the US in 2019.)

Another aspect of the Long March is that Mao Zedong began his rise to prominence in the Chinese Communist Party, in a conference at Zunyi, southwest China. (The conference was a brief moment to take stock of what had happened and how the CCP and its armies could learn from its mistakes, to ensure its survival. It was not a cozy history conference with coffee and cookies between presentations.) Mao’s rise to power would continue with the Forum in Yan’an in 1942 when Mao brought forward ideas for a unified approach for the function of literature and art in the communist movement. This Yan’an Forum will appear briefly next week, but a thread runs through to the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976, Week 11)

Readings

Basic Set:

  • Summary of chapter 16
  • Slides (Gdrive link)
  • Spence, Jonathan D. The Search for Modern China. Third ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.
    • Chapter 16: “Communist survival” (PDF)
    • Note: despite the title, the chapter touches on other aspects of what happens around that time.
  • “The Tale of the Luding Bridge.” In The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection, Third ed. Edited by Janet Chen et. al., W. W. Norton & Company, 2014. (PDF) #military #propaganda #PLA (People’s Liberation Army)
    • This is a good example of a heroic action (undoubtedly), that became the stuff of legend in later decades.
  • OPTIONAL: Hershatter, Gail. The Gender of Memory: Rural Women and China’s Collective Past. Asia Pacific Modern, 8. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. (ebook Trexler) #women
    • Chapter 2: “No One is Home”: the sections in italic are based on interviews with women; the researchers then place these stories in the broader context, and in particular look at how these women make sense of these stories within the new framework of the language and worldview they learned from the communists. But the core of their experiences give you a very good idea of what life was like in northern rural China before 1949.
    • The whole book is fascinating and worth a read.
  • OPTIONAL TEXTBOOK: Moïse Edwin E. Modern China: A History Third ed. Harlow, England: Pearson/Longman, 2008.
    • pp. 74-88
  • OPTIONAL TEXTBOOK: Dillon, Michael. China: A Modern History. London: I.B. Tauris, 2010.
    • pp. 212-217, 219-227.
  • OPTIONAL NEWSREEL: “China’s Dictator Kidnapped”. Narrated by Westbrook Van Voorhis, In March of Time, Volume 3, Episode 5 (New York, NY: HBO, 1936), 10 minutes. https://video-alexanderstreet-com.muhlenberg.idm.oclc.org/watch/china-s-dictator-kidnapped.
    • This newsreel from 1936 provides background on the early encroachment of the Japanese on Chinese territory, the development of the Chinese economy (in particular Shanghai) and concludes with the Xi’an incident. Watch here:

Assignments

Reminder: Peer feedback on post Week 7

3 points, due Tue. Oct. 13 by 11.59pm (one off change to the regular deadline(

Ok, you know the drill, and why reading other’s posts is good for you… Below you find links to four blog posts from your fellow students. If one of the websites is your own, or it is twice the same person’s, refresh the page, and you should get new sites.

  • Post 1:
  • Post 2:
  • Post 3:
  • Post 4:

Leave feedback, questions, thoughts, insights about the contents of the posts of your fellow students using Hypothes.is group HST271. You can ask for clarifications, point out similarities and differences with the material you covered, or with your interpretation. This should encourage you to nose around in the other materials you did not read in the first round.

Use the “Architect’s Model” of giving feedback, and engage with concrete issues. Go beyond “Yeah, I agree,” “I like” or “I think the same”, and instead explain why you have that reaction, or if you disagree, you can try to persuade the original poster of your idea or interpretation.

Remember that Hypothes.is allows for hyperlinks, e.g. to materials that support your argument, or you can include pictures (memes! [yes, there she is again]), videos etc. that help the original poster to learn more.

When you’ve commented on four posts, read this declaration carefully, and then fill out the Canvas quiz to collect your points.

Declaration
– I commented on four fellow students’ initial posts on the readings from Week 5, using the group HST271.
– I made sure to leave substantial comments that move the discussion forward and help to create better insights, and go beyond a “nice” or “great”.
– I left comments that I would like to receive myself: thoughtful, helpful, kind, but also pointing out errors so they can be fixed.

Blog post

5 points, due by Thursday, Oct. 15. 11.59pm.

Write a blog post exploring themes or ideas based on your reading. You do not need to have all the answers. In fact, learning to ask good analytical or research questions is a skill you can develop during the semester.

  • Length: approx. 400 words. excl. list of materials consulted.
  • Add the list of materials consulted at the end of the post, in Chicago notes and bibliography style.
    • TOP TIP: Just copy the bibliography information from the Reading list here.
  • Add the words “Week 8” in the title (please use this exact phrase, or it trips up the filter I created to have your posts show up in the blog stream)
  • Indicate in your post which Exploration Pack you chose.
  • Including an image, and make sure to add a caption with the source/credit.
  • Post on your website, and add to the category hst271.

When you’re done, read this declaration carefully and then fill out the Canvas quiz to collect your points.

Declaration
– I wrote a post of approximately 400 words in response to the readings.
– I included the bibliographic references for the materials I used for my post.
– I indicated which Exploration Pack I chose.
– I included an image, and I provided a caption and credit (source) for the image.
– I use the words Week 8 in the title, and added the post to category hst271

Peer feedback on post Week 8

3 points, due Mon. Oct. 19 by 11.59pm

Ok, you know the drill, and why reading other’s posts is good for you… Below you find links to four blog posts from your fellow students. If one of the websites is your own, or it is twice the same person’s, refresh the page, and you should get new sites.

  • Post 1:
  • Post 2:
  • Post 3:
  • Post 4:

Leave feedback, questions, thoughts, insights about the contents of the posts of your fellow students using Hypothes.is group HST271. You can ask for clarifications, point out similarities and differences with the material you covered, or with your interpretation. This should encourage you to nose around in the other materials you did not read in the first round.

Use the “Architect’s Model” of giving feedback, and engage with concrete issues. Go beyond “Yeah, I agree,” “I like” or “I think the same”, and instead explain why you have that reaction, or if you disagree, you can try to persuade the original poster of your idea or interpretation.

Remember that Hypothes.is allows for hyperlinks, e.g. to materials that support your argument, or you can include pictures (memes! [yes, there she is again]), videos etc. that help the original poster to learn more.

When you’ve commented on four posts, read this declaration carefully, and then fill out the Canvas quiz to collect your points.

Declaration
– I commented on four fellow students’ initial posts on the readings from Week 8, using the group HST271.
– I made sure to leave substantial comments that move the discussion forward and help to create better insights, and go beyond a “nice” or “great”.
– I left comments that I would like to receive myself: thoughtful, helpful, kind, but also pointing out errors so they can be fixed.

Feedback on Show and Tell 2 projects

(Randomizer coming soon!)

  • Not graded, but part of the “Participation in the Learning commons/Professionalism”
  • Please aim to complete by Oct. 23.

Below you’ll find links to two Show and Tell projects from fellow students. Please share your feedback with them, for instance:

  • what do you like about the format?
  • what did or did not quite work?
  • what helped you understand this particular period of Chinese history better?
  • what suggestions do you have for a make-over/redo?
    • you can re-submit your Show and Tell project anytime before the close of the semester for a better grade; think of the kind of advice you’d like to get to help you achieve that!
  • do you think the project can help future students, and should I use it next time I run the course?

Leave your comments on the blog-post either as a page note in the Hypothes.is group HST271 or if you can annotate the text itself, highlight and mark up with Hypothes.is.

If one of the websites is your own, or it is twice the same person’s, refresh the page, and you should get new sites.

  • Project 1:
  • Project 2:

Extra Credit Tasks

EC 8-1: Extra commenting

2 points, due by Sunday Oct. 18, 11.59pm.

Do you like reading your colleagues’ work? Do you like helping them out by identifying ways to make their posts better? Now you can earn extra credit by doing extra commenting! This assignment will be available regularly throughout the semester.

  • Go to the Blog Stream of the Class under Student Posts on the website
  • Pick a post that piques your curiosity and that you have not yet commented on
  • Use Hypothes.is group HST271, and leave feedback as we practiced with the Architects’s model
  • Pick 2 additional posts (a total of 3 for this task): they can come from other students in the blog stream, or if you like the writer, you can stay with them and comment more.
  • The only conditions are:
    • that you do not comment on blog posts you already commented on before, as part of your regular weekly “Exploration” tasks.
    • that the post is actually written for HST271, and not some other class. Check the category, and the content :upside down smiley:
  • Add the tag extra to the comment (this helps me to keep track of how many people use this option.)

When you’re done, please read this declaration carefully and collect your points with the Canvas Declaration Quiz.

Declaration
I selected three blogs I have not yet commented on before, from our class’ blog stream, and I used the Hypothes.is group HST271 to comment.
I made sure to leave substantial comments that help the writer to improve the post, or to identify their strengths.
I added the tag extra to my Hypothes.is comments.
I left comments that I would like to receive myself: thoughtful, helpful, kind, but also pointing out errors so they can be fixed.

EC 8-2: Rewrite a post

3 points, due by Sunday Oct 11, 11.59pm

Unhappy about a post you wrote? Feeling you can do better now than a few weeks ago? Had a bad week and rushed to get it in but now you’re ready to do something you can be proud of? Now you can rewrite a post and get extra credit for it!

  • Pick a post from a previous week and use the comments you received to rewrite it.
  • Add a brief paragraph at the end explaining how you rewrote the post: which comments did you address, how did you go about the process (new blank page vs. tinkering), and what you learned about the process of rewriting.
  • tag the post with extra, and add the word rewrite to the title

Read the following Declaration carefully, and then head on over to Canvas to collect your points in the Declaration Quiz:

Declaration
I selected a post from a previous week and rewrote it, using feedback and insights I gained since writing it.
I added a brief paragraph at the end explaining what I did to rewrite the post, and what I learned about rewriting
I added the tag extra to the post, and added the word rewrite to the title.
I made sure the post is still in the category hst271.

Where to ask questions

Remember that it is highly likely that you are not the only one with that question. Save me time, and help your fellow students by asking questions where others can see them. If you know the answer to a question, jump in! I can’t be everywhere all the time.

Missing link? Wrong information? Email me!

On to week 9: Coming soon!