22W-HIST-97G-SEM-1 Introduction to Historical Practice: Variable Topics in East Asian History

22W-HIST-97G-SEM-1 Introduction to Historical Practice: Variable Topics in East Asian History

Download syllabus here: 97G-Shanghai-syllabus-W22.docx 






Winter 2022


Shanghai’s New Culture, 1895-1937


The history of twentieth-century China has been dominated by the Communist revolution of 1949.  Consequently, historians typically view Chinese society during the first half of the twentieth century in light of the events and ideas that led up to 1949.  In particular, their focus has been trained on two momentous struggles: the clash between Confucian and Western values, and the triumph of the peasant revolution over the old regime.  This course, however, is devoted to less cataclysmic cultural and political changes that took place in the cities, and thus made no direct contribution to the Communist revolution in the countryside.  In Shanghai, amid the glare of the big city, cultural changes—both radical and subtle—created a new cosmopolitan world compounded of both Western and Chinese values and cultural icons.  While lacking revolutionary consequences, the romance novels and Hollywood-style films (for example) of Shanghai’s urban culture still can tell us a great deal about the search for meaning and value in modern Chinese society.  We will study this new culture of Shanghai and its political implications in the context of the transformation of urban society and the emergence of new social classes.


Instructor: Richard von Glahn

Office: 9278 Bunche; phone: (310) 825-3087 (campus extension 53087)

Office Hours: Mondays 2-3; Wednesdays 10-12 noon


RequirementsThe seminar meets once a week (Wednesday 2-4:50 pm).

Attendance is mandatory.  The amount of reading per week varies, but usually is around 150-200 pages.  In one week (the last week) we read a whole novel that is considerably longer.


Written Assignments:  Students will write three essays, 5-7 pages in length (typed. double-spaced), on topics assigned by the instructor based on the assigned readings/films for the course.  The essays will be due on February 2; February 23; March 16


Grading: Each written assignment is worth 20% of the final grade. The other 40% of the grade will be based on class participation.


Books Available at ASUCLA Bookstore and College Library Reserve:

            (Note: surnames of Chinese & Japanese authors are capitalized):


            Marie-Claire Bergère, Shanghai

            HAN Bangqing, Sing-Song Girls of Shanghai

            Patrick Hanan, transl., The Sea of Regret: Two Turn-of-the Century Chinese

                        Romantic Novels

            MAO Tun, Midnight

            Riichi YOKOMITSU, Shanghai


Note: All Other Required Readings are Available on the Class Website



Schedule of Classes and Readings:


Week 1 (January 5th): Introduction


Week 2 (January 12th): “Shanghai Style”: Courtesan Culture

            Bergère, Shanghai, 1-7, 85-129

            Han Bangqing, Sing-Song Girls of Shanghai (1892), chapters 1-14, 29-42

                    (pp. 1-116, 234-252)


Week 3 (January 19th): Social Criticism in the Late Qing Novel

            FU Lin, “Stones in the Sea” (1906) and WU Jianren, “Sea of Regret” (1906) 

                    in Patrick Hanan, transl., The Sea of Regret: Two Turn-of-the Century

                    Chinese Romantic Novels, 21-205

            QIU Jin, “Stones of the Jingwei Bird (1905-7),” in Dooling & Torgeson, ed.

                        Writing Women in Modern China, 39-78


Week 4 (January 26th):  Romantic Love in “Butterfly” Fiction

            Bergère, Shanghai, 130-144

            Perry Link, Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies, 1-64

            SU Man-shu, “The Broken Hairpin (1916),” in Y.W. MA & Joseph LAU, ed.,                                Traditional Chinese Stories, 234-248

            CHANG Hen-shui, “Fate in Tears and Laughter (1929-30),” in LIU Ts’un-yan,

                        ed., Chinese Middlebrow Fiction, 255-287


Week 5 (February 2nd): Sex in the City: From the Brothel to the Cinema

 **First Essay Due**

            Bergère, Shanghai, 147-176, 242-284

            Michael CHANG, “The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful: Movie Actresses and

                        Public Discourse in Shanghai, 1920s-1930s” in Yinjin ZHANG, ed.,

                        Cinema and Urban Culture in Shanghai, 128-159


            Film in class: The Goddess (dir. Wu Yonggang; 1934)


Week 6 (February 9th): Eros and Liberation: The “Modern Girl”

             Wellington Chan, “Selling Goods and Promoting a New Commercial

                       Culture: The Four Premier Department Stores on Nanjing Road,

                       1917-1937,” in  Cochran, ed., Inventing Nanjing Road, 19-36

            Carrie Warra, “Invention, Industry, Art: The Commercialization of Culture in

                       Republican Art Magazines,” in Cochran, ed., Inventing Nanjing Road,


            SHI Pingmei, “Lin Nan’s Diary (1928),” in Dooling & Torgeson, Writing

                        Women in Modern China, 115-130

            DING Ling, “Miss Sophia’s Diary (1928),” and “Shanghai, Spring 1930

                        (1930),” in Tani E. Barlow and Gary J. Bjorge, ed., I Myself Am A

                        Woman: Selected Writings of Ding Ling, 49-81, 112-171


Week 7 (February 16th): Vanguard of Western Civilization: College


            Bergère, Shanghai, 177-212

            Wen-hsin YEH, The Alienated Academy, 1-6, 49-166, 202-278


            Film in class: Plunder of Peach and Plum (dir. YING Yunwei; 1934)


Week 8 (February 23rd): An Alien Country: Cosmopolitanism and


**Second Essay Due**

            Riichi YOKOMITSU, Shanghai (1929-31)

            Earnest O. Hauser, Shanghai: City for Sale (Shanghai: Chinese American

                        Publishing Company, 1940), pp. 235-281


Week 9 (March 2nd): Shanghai’s “Petty Urbanites”

            Wen-hsin YEH, “Petty Urbanites and Tales of Woe,” in YEH, Shanghai

                        Splendor, pp. 129-151           


            Film in class: Street Angels (dir. YUAN Muzhi; 1937)


Week 10 (March 9th): Demise of the Chinese Bourgeoisie         

            MAO Dun, Midnight (1933)


March 16th: Final Essay Due


Course Summary:

Date Details Due