Week 01: Feb. 8 – Feb. 14

Welcome to week 1 of the course “HST271: Modern China”!

This week, there is something to do for you every day to set everything up for the rest of the semester, and you get a chance to read one chapter of the textbook and learn something about Chinese history already. Depending on how easy you find the technology to set up this week you will find that next week you need to budget for more time. Count on 6 to 8 hours per week on average for this course. That includes reading, reflecting, and writing about what you learned in Chinese history every week.

For most tasks, you will also fill out a Declaration Quiz on Canvas. These are linked in this weekly schedule, or on the dedicated webpage if there is one. You can also find them in the Module for Week 1 on Canvas. This week, the quizzes have no points, and count as practice runs. They also stay open for the entire week. Next week, that changes: there will be a 12hr automatic extension period, and extra credit assignments to buffer any missed deadlines, but I expect you to work within the course rhythm. They are simple true/false quizzes. You can go back and adjust your answer, and there is no time limit, and from next week, you’ll start to build points for the “Exploration” tasks.

If something about the process is not clear, let me know! Remember that for technical stuff our Digital Learning Assistant (DLA) is availabe to help, and you can always go to the general DLA drop-in hours. (more details soon)

Monday Feb. 8

  • Watch the videos in the orientation module (Time estimate: 30 mins)
    • These videos help you understand what the course is about, why I made certain choices, and how it’s all supposed to work as an asynchronous course. (I still encourage you to attend the Zoom sessions on Thursday afternoon)
  • Join the Google chat room, and write a brief introduction. (Time estimate: 10 mins)
  • When you’re done, go to Canvas and fill out the Declaration Quiz

Tuesday Feb. 9

  • Time estimate: 45 mins
  • Set up or reactivate your Hypothes.is account, and join the group HST271
  • Annotate the course syllabus – ask questions or leave comments at specific points. If everything is clear, please just leave a page note indicating you read and agree with the syllabus.
    • remember you can use tags to draw our attention to questions that need to be answered by me (Dr. D) or our DLA (Rachel)
  • When you’re done, go to Canvas and fill out the Declaration Quiz

Wednesday Feb. 10

  • Time estimate: 60 mins
  • Set up or re-activate your own Bergbuilds Domain, install WordPress, and write your first blog post for this semester.
  • When you’re done, go to Canvas and fill out the Declaration Quiz
  • Get Stuff Done Club is open 2-3 PM, if you want some help or company with some of your tasks, or if something is not clear. (optional/ aka office hours/drop in tutorials)
    • find the link on the SECRETS page on Canvas.

Thursday Feb. 11

  • Read Chapter 1 of the [otherwise recommended but optional] textbook (Spence), check out the summary, and look through the slides. (time estimate: 90 min)
    • (Click on each of the hyperlinks above. My website and course design rely heavily on hyperlinks. Click on anything that looks blue and explore!)
    • You need to enter a username and password for the PDF of the textbook. Find these at the SECRETS page on Canvas. These remain the same for the semester. No two-factor authentication required for the PDF vault!
  • Get Stuff Done Club is open 2-3 PM. (optional/ aka office hours/drop in tutorials)
    • find the link on the SECRETS page on Canvas.
  • Come to the Zoom session with your questions. 3.30pm (link can be found on the SECRETS page on Canvas)
    • central question for discussion: “What is the most amazing thing you already learned about China this week?”
    • you can of course also bring any other questions, e.g. for clarification. There are no such things as stupid questions. At least, I have not come across them yet. Try me!

Friday Feb. 12.

Check you have completed all assignments, and filled out all the Declaration Quizzes.

On to week 2 (coming soon)


  • Tuchman, Barbara W. Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45. New York: Macmillan, 1971. (excerpt from chapter 2: pp. 26-37, marked with red brackets) (PDF <– click on link. Login name and password can be found on the SECRETS PAGE)
    • Note: the machine-read PDF text on this book scan may not be perfect, but you can highlight sections. If you open the file in Chrome, you can use Hypothes.is for social annotation (see this video). Use group HST271, of course.
    • This brief section gives you a whirlwind tour of the events between 1793 (the Macartney mission to the Qianlong emperor) and the revolution of 1911. We will see these in more detail, but they give you a good idea of the massive change that China underwent in the scope of about a century. By the end of the semester, you will be able to critique this passage in quite some detail. For now, just take note of what you find interesting, remarkable or strange, and contrast with what you already saw this week, and what’s to come in future weeks.