The Opium War: Britain and the Birth of Modern China, 1839-1842 (HIH1406)
|Staff||Junqing Wu - Convenor|
|Duration of Module||Term 2: 11 weeks;|
The aim of the module is to introduce students to this crucial moment in China’s past by looking at the causes, course, and consequences of the conflict through both British and Chinese sources. In doing so, the course will assess the nature of China’s encounter with the West and consider the impact of the conflict on modern China. Students will compare and contrast conflicting responses to particular events and issues, such as debates over the rights and wrongs of opium trading, and the diplomatic assumptions and practices of the two powers. They will do so through the close reading of primary sources (all in translation) and secondary literature.
ILO: Module-specific skills
- 1. Assess the nature of Chinas encounter with the West and its impact on modern China.
- 2. Work critically with a range of sources related to the Opium War.
ILO: Discipline-specific skills
- 3. Identify the problems of using historical sources, e.g. bias, reliability, etc., and to compare the validity of different.
ILO: Personal and key skills
- 4. Demonstrate the ability to answer a question briefly and concisely.
- 5. Present work and respond to question orally, and think quickly of questions to ask other students.
- 6. Conduct independent study and group work, including the presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning.
- 7. Digest, select and organise material to produce to a deadline a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment.
- 8. Work with others in a team and to interact effectively with tutor and the wider group.
- 9. Write to a very tight word-length.
The module will benefit from the wide range of sources available on the Opium War. From the British side, students will explore travel writing on China, parliamentary debates, newspaper articles, missionary correspondence, and images. From the Chinese side, they will critically evaluate imperial edicts, memoirs and reports. One session will consider the Treaty of Nanjing alongside subsequent diplomatic agreements, while a final class will look at the social memory of the conflict in contemporary China. All sources are in English, though the class will consider translation as a historical and historiographical challenge
WHO WERE THE CHINESE?
2. British perceptions before the war
3. Chinese world view
THE PROBLEM OF OPIUM
4. China: Debates over suppression and legalisation
5. Britain: Intervention or non-interference
PERSPECTIVES ON THE WAR
6. British views
7. Chinese views
8. The ‘unequal treaties’
9. Modernisation and self-strengthening
10. The ‘Yellow Peril’
11. The Opium War in Chinese memory
Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities||Guided independent study||Placement / study abroad|
Details of learning activities and teaching methods
|Category||Hours of study time||Description|
|Scheduled learning and teaching activities||2||2 hour lecture: Introduction to module|
|Scheduled learning and teaching activities||20||10 x 2 Seminars. At a meeting of the whole class generally a different group of 3-4 students will give a presentation to the whole class, followed by class discussion and working through the sources for that week carefully. Additional sources may be issued in the class and the lecturer will also use the time to set up issues for the following week.|
|Guided Independent Study||128||Students prepare for the session through reading and research; writing five source commentaries and an essay and preparing one group presentation in the course of the term.|
|Form of assessment||Size of the assessment (eg length / duration)||ILOs assessed||Feedback method|
|Group presentation (3-4 students)||10-15 minutes||1-4, 6-7, 9||Oral|
|Lowest mark from portfolio of 5 source commentaries||500 words||1-4, 6-7, 9||Mark and written comments|
Summative assessment (% of credit)
|Coursework||Written exams||Practical exams|
Details of summative assessment
|Form of assessment||% of credit||Size of the assessment (eg length / duration)||ILOs assessed||Feedback method|
|4 highest marks from portfolio of 5 source commentaries||60 (15% per commentary)||2000 words (500 per commentary)||1-5, 7-8, 10||Marks and written comments|
|Essay on Sources||40||1500 words||1-5, 7-8, 10||Mark and written comments|
Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)
|Original form of assessment||Form of re-assessment||ILOs re-assessed||Timescale for re-assessment|
|4 highest marks from portfolio of 5 source commentaries||4 highest marks from portfolio of 5 source commentaries||1-5, 7-8, 10||Referral/deferral period|
|1500 word essay||1500 word essay||1-5, 7-8, 10||Referral/deferral period|
Indicative learning resources - Basic reading
Baumler, lan. Modern China and Opium: A Reader (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2001).
Brook, Timothy and Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi (eds.). Opium Regimes: China, Britain and Japan, 1839-1952 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000).
Fairbank, John K. Trade and Diplomacy on the China Coast: Opening of the Treaty Ports, 1842-54 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1974).
Fay, Peter Ward. The Opium War, 1840-42 (Durham, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1998).
Lovell, Julia. The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China (London: Picador, 2012).
Spence, Jonathan D. The Search for Modern China (London: W. W. Norton & Co., 2001).
Wakeman, Frederic. Strangers at the Gate: Social Disorder in South China, 1839-1861 (Berkeley: California University Press, 1966).
Waley, Arthur. The Opium War Through Chinese Eyes (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1979).
Yangwen, Zheng. The Social Life of Opium in China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).
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Key words search
Opium war, Britain, China