His 106 g: Final Exam prep sheet

The final exam will focus on the second half of the course, essentially from the Ming dynasty up to the present. All ID, short answer, and text analysis questions will focus on those time periods. There are also two groups of essay questions. Questions in Group 1 focus almost exclusively on the second half of the course, while Group 2 questions cover the entire semester.

The final will be comprised of 3 parts.

1) An identification section 25 pts

2) A short answer section15 pts

3) Two short essays60 pts, 30 points each

The entire exam is designed to take about 80 minutes, but you can use the entire 2 hours if you like.

PART 1: 5 IDs for 5 points each. Total 25 points.

You will be given a list of a dozen terms, names, or events. You will have to choose 5 of these, identify them and explain their significance.

PART 2: 2 Short Answers, 7.5 points each, total 15 points.

You will be given 8 short answer questions. Answer 2 of them.

PART 3. 2 short essays, 30 points each. You must pick one essay from Group 1 and one from Group 2. Below are several essay questions. 4 questions will appear on the exam, 2 in each Group. How you write the essay is of course up to you. Try to use specific examples of events, historical figures and/or texts in your answers when possible.


1. “Almost all of the major territorial disputes China has faced over the last 100 years have their roots in the Qing dynasty.”

Write an essay in which you explain the above claim, choosing 3 specific examples of such disputes/conflicts. Make sure to 1) describe each of the basic conflicts or disputes (when, where, between whom, and either how the dispute ended or, if the situation is ongoing, what the situation is today.); 2) explain some of the main reasons driving each dispute or sparking key outbreaks of conflict; and 3) make sure to include in these reasons the significance of the geo-political legacy that 20th century Chinese governments inherited from the Qing (obviously this third aspect is crucial to your essay).

2. Write an essay comparing the Nationalists (GMD) and the Communists (CCP) from the 1920s to 1950. What were some of the main policies and strategies of the parties (including their armies)? Who supported them? Who opposed them? Why? Did their levels of popular support change over time, and why? Try to be as specific as you can about the particular social groups or strata that joined (or disliked) the parties, and the policies or actions that gained or lost the popular support of these groups. Obviously sometimes support or opposition resulted from unintended consequences of policies and actions; and sometimes both parties tried to woo the same groups of people to their cause. You also can touch on domestic issues and/or foreign relations, economics, politics or culture—any specific issues you see as playing important roles in shaping the CCP’s and/or GMD’s popular support. In the final analysis, what do you think explains the eventual defeat of the GMD by the CCP? Did the CCP win, or did the GMD lose?

3. “The main political challenge China faced from the Opium War to the establishment of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949 involved the necessity of transforming traditional imperial subjects into modern national citizens.”

Write an essay explaining the above statement. In your response you should FIRST AND FOREMOST clarify what the key differences are between subjects and citizens. Then give 3 historical examples that illustrate the importance of this issue (these could be the influential writings or ideas of key figures; institutional changes, reforms, government policies; mass movements, political protests, rebellions, or other catalyzing events; or even general social trends that demonstrated or promoted this shift). Finally, in your conclusion evaluate whether (or to what extent, in what specific ways) the Chinese people in the Mao era were national citizens,.


4. “The most significant change in 20th century Chinese history was not the revolution of 1911 toppling the Qing, nor the revolution of 1949 putting the CCP in power, but the Qing government’s decision to end the civil service exam system in 1905.”

Write an essay explaining clearly why this claim could be made. You should not simply summarize the importance of the civil service exam in Chinese history, but also the short and long-term ramifications of its abolishment for modern Chinese politics, society and culture (in this regard you can also discuss the role of Confucianism in modern Chinese culture and history if you like). Use clear specific examples.

Having defended the claim as well as you are able, conclude with your own assessment of whether you actually think it is correct. Why or why not? What do YOU think the most significant event of 20th century Chinese history was?

5. Write an essay either agreeing or disagreeing with this proposition:

“The most important problem in Chinese history has been the struggle between the rich and the poor.”

There are many ways you could approach this essay. No matter what you choose to argue, make sure to 1) present an overview of how economic inequality has been a concern at various moments throughout Chinese history; you can describe ways it was created and reinforced and attempts to lessen it. 2) Evaluate the role of the CCP and “Socialism” in 20th century China in light of class inequality. USE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES.

If you disagree with the proposition you should provide and argue for an alternative proposition (for example: economic inequality was an incessant problem, but corruption OR national defense OR modernization OR xyz was the most pressing issue of the 20th century). If you agree with the proposition then explain why attempts at creating more egalitarian systems been typically short-lived and failed.

6. One way to look at Chinese history from the perspective of women is that Chinese women lived through most of Chinese imperial history (from the Han dynasty to the Qing) being ruled by the patriarchal family; in the 20th century they were liberated from that family structure in order to be ruled by the nation-state.

Write an essay explaining and providing evidence for this statement. It is extremely important to remember that the roles that confined women could also be the roles that brought them respect and (limit) power. In your essay provide and explain 2 clear examples from before the 20th century of how women’s roles were shaped by their place in serving the family and provide and explain 2 clear examples of how in the 20th century their roles were recast to serving the nation.