Modern China

Essay Prompts 2019

Drawing as much as possible from the assigned readings, write a five to seven-page essay (double-spaced, PAGINATED, one-inch margins, 12-point font) on one of the following prompts. This is not a research paper; it is a problem-oriented interpretive essay. Your goal is to carefully consider the issue and formulate a well-reasoned and persuasive response based on what you have learned in this class. Also, remember that while grammar, sentence formation and paragraph coherence may indeed be forms of oppression, they are also necessary to make your argument clear and persuasive. Clear writing is, after all, inseparable from clear thinking.  

  1. It is often claimed that free market economics inevitably result in greater degrees of personal freedom. Based on your reading of Wish Lanterns by Alec Ash, has economic development in the reform era brought about such freedoms for young people in China? In what ways are they constrained by traditional factors such as parental and societal pressures as well as by new patterns of educational and career opportunities (or the lack thereof). To what degree does the state play a role in their lives?
  1. If Lu Xun had still been alive in the closing decades of the 20th century, what might he have thought? Have the issues that concerned him, and which figured so prominently in his fiction, been resolved by decades of revolution and reform? How do you think he would respond to the new challenges facing China and the Chinese people?
  1. History textbooks generally state that twentieth-century China witnessed two Revolutions, one in 1911 and another in 1949. Yet many historians have also described China as undergoing a process of revolutionary transformation, one that began in the latter nineteenth century and continued indefinitely thereafter. Explain this apparent paradox. What is revolution? At what point, if any, might we say that the Chinese Revolution is finished? Has that, in fact, already occurred?

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