Week 9: War, and more war

Oct. 19-25

As we move into what is traditionally the busier part of the semester I’ll try to do what I can to make the weekly reading load lighter. (We all know by now that’s a bit of a challenge for me.) It is a bit tricky this week to offer full-fledged exploration packs, so instead I offer Optional Extras. Please note: the optional materials are optional: if you are curious, you can explore more, based on your interests and on your available time. I’ll offer a time estimate but that can be a bit of a guess, so let me know if you move faster or slower so I can update this for future re-use.

Module 4: War and Revolution

This is a tough week content-wise: the Second World War was brutal in China, and it was followed immediately after by an equally brutal civil war between the Nationalists (Guomindang, GMD) and the Communists (CCP). I’m afraid I can’t find any light topics as options amidst all of this. In fact, the whole Module 4 has a heavy death-toll, so prepare yourself mentally. Chinese history is not all about monochrome ink paintings and dainty poetry.

New for Tuesday Zoom

Based on a suggestion in the Reflections in one of my classes, I’ll have a central question for break-out rooms to discuss with your colleagues/without me, before regrouping and talking through your findings in the larger group. This is perfect if you worry about not having anything to say in a Zoom session: now you have a question to mull over! Join us at 4pm – Find the Pink Link on the SECRETS page on Canvas.

This week’s question: most of you have probably only learned about WWII in the “Pacific Theater” as Pearl Harbor and everything that happened with the American forces after that point. How does your perspective on the War change when you see the long-term perspective from China (1937, and even before then the Japanese colonization of Korea, Taiwan, and encroachment of Chinese territory), and then realize that it was followed immediately by a civil war?

If you can’t make it, that’s fine – the session does not add new content. And if you can make it, you can still ask all the other questions you want to ask! The session is still fully optional, but I sensed that some of you are a bit lost without an “assignment” to give you as an entry point into the conversation; it will also give you a chance to meet some of your colleagues in real time. I hope this helps.

Table of Contents

Background

Given 1939 as the start of the Second World War, with Germany’s invasion of Poland, is harsh: it sidelines the rough reality of millions of East Asian people: Chinese civilians in particular had already paid a bloody price by that time in their dealings with Japan. From an East Asian view point, we usually start our timeline in July 1937, with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. You’ll notice that Wikipedia calls it (correctly) the second Sino-Japanese war, but I find it a missed opportunity to move away from a Euro-centric point of view.

The fixation on a specific date or incident has one big problem: Japan did not officially declare war on China, and treated this like many of the other incidents we have already seen in previous weeks, which led to its takeover of Manchuria, for instance. Maybe a case can be made that WWII started in 1931 with the Mukden incident (when some members of the Japanese military fabricated an incident that was used as a pretext to invade and occupy the northeastern provinces of China, known as Manchuria)?

The infamous Nanjing massacre (sometimes also called “rape of Nanjing”) took place in December 1937. Casualties of Chinese civilians differ, but range between 40,000 and 300,000, in addition to looting and non-lethal violence.

Why does this matter? Japanese history textbooks routinely play down the events, or the degree of violence. Needless to say, this affected relations between China and Japan, see for instance this newspaper article from 2015. (The issue has gone a bit more quiet in recent years because so many other things are on fire, not because the problem went away) In China, since the 1990s, this has also fueled a strong anti-Japanese nationalism.

In the wake of WWII, the Nationalists under Chiang Kaishek did not immediately have a plan for rebuilding the nation – the US wanted to help, and tried to set up reconciliation mechanisms between the GMD and CCP, but this proved to be futile. They withdrew in 1948, and “China was lost” (to the communists).

Why does this matter? “What if” history is notoriously useless if you’re a historian, because so many small and insignificant things can turn out to be a big factor in changing the course of history. But what did happen was that in the US a witch hunt started when senator Joe McCarthy wanted to root all communists in the US. The “Loss of China” played an important role, since there was a general belief that communist sympathizers in the US foreign service had made this possible. McCarthyism ruined many careers (including in academia) on very, very flimsy evidence, and it meant a major setback to the development of China Studies in the US.

Readings

Basic Set (all students)

  • Summary Chapter 17 (WWII)
  • Summary Chapter 18 (Civil War)
  • EITHER: Moïse Edwin E. Modern China: A History Third ed. Harlow, England: Pearson/Longman, 2008.
    • Chapter 5
  • OR: Dillon, Michael. China: A Modern History. London: I.B. Tauris, 2010.
    • Chapter 10

Optional extras (pick and mix if curious/as time allows)

  • Spence, Jonathan D. The Search for Modern China. Third ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.
    • Chapters 17 and 18.
    • The ever-reliable textbook option, some of you are fans of this one, so don’t let me take that away.
  • “Mao Zedong: The Rectification Campaign.” In The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection, Third ed. Edited by Janet Chen et. al., W. W. Norton & Company, 2014.
    • In the middle of WWII, the rectification campaign aimed to root out enemies of the communist cause who had somehow managed to find their way into the party, and would also educate those who were in need of revising their views to be more in line with the party’s. Art and culture played a central role in this. (PDF) (25 min. read) #Mao #art #literature #culture #socialist-realism
  • “Ding Ling: Thoughts on March 8, 1942.” In The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection, Third ed. Edited by Janet Chen et. al., W. W. Norton & Company, 2014.
    • Ding Ling was a communist and feminist writer, but she was too independent-minded to fit in the CCP of Mao Zedong. She became the target of many rectification campaigns over the years. (PDF) (15 min read) #women #feminism #literature
  • Hershatter, Gail. Women and China’s Revolutions. Critical Issues in World and International History. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2019.
    • In this short extract you can read about how women (young soldiers and feisty grandmas alike!) fought against the Japanese, and how women fared during the Civil war. (PDF) (30 min read) #women #war #resistance
  • Smedley, Agnes, J. F Horrabin, and Victor Gollancz Ltd. China Fights Back : An American Woman with the Eighth Route Army. Left Book Club Edition. London: V. Gollancz, 1938.
    • The Eighth Route Army was the name for the Communist Army. Agnes Smedley was not shy about her sympathies for the communist cause, and as a journalist had already earlier reported on their travails during the Long March, but never was she as close to the action as during the late 1930s. This is a small section when she to tag along with Lin Biao (Lin Piao in her transcription), who will rise to become Mao’s designated successor until his sudden fall from power in 1971. (PDF) #war #women #journalist #CCP
  • Fan Liya. “Weibo Suspends Relationship Guru Over ‘Comfort Women’ Comments.Sixth Tone. May 22, 2018. (6 min. read)
    • This article gives you a good sense of how tense the collective memory and pain about WWII in China still is. #women #war #memory
  • Li Bin. “Reimagining a Tokyo Trial Tableau“. Sixth Tone. Nov. 11, 2019. (5 min. read)
    • The Chinese painter used a traditional (Western) medium (oil painting) to depict the East Asian equivalent of the Nuremberg trials. #war #memory #Japan
  • Meyer, Mahlon. Remembering China from Taiwan : Divided Families and Bittersweet Reunions After the Chinese Civil War. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2012.
    • Chapter 1 “Degrees of Escape” has stories of escaping from the Japanese and the communist forces. It is a longer chapter, so peruse and focus on the sections you find interesting. (Ebook Trexler) #Taiwan #Japan #CCP #war #memory

Assignments

Reminder: 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

  • 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:

Blog post

5 points, due by Thursday, Oct. 22. 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.
    • Don’t include the (PDF) or the #hashtags – those are just there to help you
  • Add the words “Week 9” 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)
  • Include 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 materials I used
– I included an image, and I provided a caption and credit (source) for the image.
– I use the words Week 9 in the title, and added the post to category hst271

Show and Tell project 3

Due Friday Oct. 23, 11.59PM

All the details are available on the dedicated webpage: Show and Tell project 3. Pitch your idea in the Cloud Lounge by Tuesday night please!

Peer feedback on post Week 9

3 points, due Mon. Oct. 26 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 9, 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.

Extra Credit

EC 9-1: Introduce an image

3 points, due Sunday 11.59pm

All the details on this webpage, incl. a link to declaration quiz.

EC 9-2: Follow that footnote!

3 points, due by Sunday, Sept. 27, 11.59pm.

All the instructions are on this separate webpage, incl. the link to the declaration quiz.

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!