Modern China

Understand China through the lens of the latest scholarship.
Instructed by Pamela Crossley
  • Lectures 23
  • Video 5 Hours
  • Skill level all level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion

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Course Description

A Faculty Project Course - Best Professors Teaching the World

Earlier scholarship on China has left us with a set of assumptions and characterizations that still powerfully affect opinion columns, television commentary, and popular books. In this course, we will rely on recent research and analysis to reach a new understanding of China's recent past, its present and future.

"2020" (part 1) the latest segment of Lecture Three, has been posted. This begins the last segment of the course.

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  • Over 23 lectures and 4.5 hours of content!

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Section 1: Introduction

An introduction and overview of the course, "Modern China." This is the version for desktop computers.

An introduction to and tips for use of the software channel.
Section 2: Chapter 1: Fundamental Themes

Chapter 1, Part 1

2 pages

Details on books discussed, and links to reliable reading about the themes.


Chapter 1, Part 2

2 slides

Outline, reading links and short timeline for Chapter 1, Part 2 (China's population)


Part 3 of Lecture 1.

3 slides



Last segment of Chapter 1.

1 slide

Preliminary background for the last segment of this chapter.

Section 3: Chapter 2: Losing the Empire
1 slide

The Nineteenth Century: 1796-1896


Chapter 2, Lecture 1 of the course.

2 slides

Who Were the Last Emperors of China?


The challenges of governing a large territory in the early modern period explain many of the problems of communication and control in the nineteenth century.


This is the first of three parts of a lecture that will cover the Taiping War and the Muslim uprisings of the late 19th century.


"The Taiping War."  Part 3, "The Muslim Wave" will be posted June 4.


"The Muslim Wave," the final lecture of the "Rebel Nation" module of the second lecture, "The Nineteenth Century."


The last segment of Chapter 2. Chapter 3, the last chapter, begins with the next segment, "The Withering State."

Section 4: Chapter 3: Creating China

This is the first section of Chapter 3, the final chapter of the course. It explores the problem of fracturing of central governance and emergence of regional government in the very late nineteenth century, creating China's profound early twentieth-century problem of entrenched local power and a weak or absent center.

Could China be reunited by force of arms in 1928? We examine the factors leading up to the dramatic story of the Northern Expedition.

This is the second section of Chapter 3 of the course. The last two sections will be "1949" and "2020."

Segment 3 of Lecture 3 covers ideological wars, as well as the war against Japanese invasion, as the background to the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.
1949 - Part 2

This episode deals with the tumultuous 1950s, with an exclusive interview with writer Frank Dikotter (Mao's Great Famine).

Instructor Biography

Pamela Crossley , Professor of History - Dartmouth College

Pamela Crossley is author of the influential new history of modern China, The Wobbling Pivot. She has taught history at Dartmouth College since 1985. She is a specialist on the history of the Qing empire, but has also written extensively on modern China, the Liao dynasty, Mongol history and global history. Her book, Orphan Warriors: Three Manchu Generations and the End of the Qing World (Princeton, 1990), opened up new vistas on the cultural and identity dynamics of modern China. Her subsequent book, The Manchus (Blackwell, 1997) was a special selection of the History Book Club, and continues to be widely taught in undergraduate classes. In 2001 she was awarded the Joseph R. Levenson Prize by the Association for Asian Studies for her book, A Translucent Mirror: History and Identity in Qing Imperial Ideology (California, 1999). Her scholarly articles have appeared in Late Imperial ChinaThe Journal of Asian StudiesThe American Historical Review, and she has contributed upon invitation to three separate series of the Cambridge histories, as well as the The Oxford History of Historical Writing.

Crossley is also a scholar of global history. She was one of the original authors of the breakthrough text The Earth and its Peoples (1997 and subsequent), and continues as co-author of Global Society: The World since 1900 (now in its third edition). Her short volume, What is Global History? (Polity, 2008) has been praised as both concise and illuminating.

Apart from more scholarly works, Crossley has also contributed to The New York Times Literary Review, The New Republic, CalliopeThe Royal Academy of Arts Magazine, Education about Asia, The Gale History of Modern China, The Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, The National Interest, Wall Street Journal and BBC Online.

Crossley is a software author, working to integrate texts and teaching methods through digital media. The software module used to extend teaching and communication resources for all teaching modern China, including those who use The Wobbling Pivot in their own classes, has been designed and authored by her, and is in a process of constant development (like The Wobbling Pivot itself). Users are warmly encouraged to share their criticisms and suggestions for improvement.

Dartmouth has awarded its prizes both for distinguished scholarship (in 1990) and for distinguished teaching (in 2011) to Crossley. Her scholarly research as been supported by the ACLS, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others.

Crossley lives in Norwich, Vermont. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College and Yale University.

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Average Rating
  1. 5 Stars
  2. 4 Stars
  3. 3 Stars
  4. 2 Stars
  5. 1 Stars
    • Don Astor

    Outstanding JOB on China Course !

    Prof Pamela Crossley does a very fine Job. Great Work ! I will never take another course again, on Asia. Having been taught by the best, can we be taught by anyone less ? She mixes up a fine blend of culture, stories, History, and philosophy to uncover the past 2,000 of History in China. 5 Stars !

    • Tomas Bradanovic

    The best

    Extraordinary course, my congratulations to the teacher, the staff and College, it was a GREAT experience

    • Julio Fernandez

    An excellent introduction to modern China

    The Wobbling Pivot course is an excellent complement to the book, including video from key moments of recent Chinese history. The course helped me to understand several key issues that have shaped contemporary China.

    • Bonnie Griffith

    Wonderful visuals enhancing professors lectures

    I probably learned more of what the prof was NOT teaching, I did listen to the lectures but because of the super visuals, the photos, the art work, the drawings, the graphs, I am a very, very visual learner so these enabled me to learn beyond what Prof Crossley was probably intending to teach!! For example, I saw so many maps of China, I learned that it is divided into provinces just as the US is divided into states. I learned the names of some of these provinces, geographically I was able to place many of them and also the cities and some towns in my mind from the visuals. The three major exports of China are silk, porcelain and tea, I loved learning that. I loved seeing the names of the places and people on the screen and then hearing her pronounce these names so I got a taste of how it is to pronounce certain letters in this language. I loved that. Seeing Chinese written out in English won't be so foreign to me anymore. I loved learning that the characters are written from the top down. Never knew that. I loved the art work that was shared and depicted the events that were being talked about. The Boxer Rebellion and the Taiping Wars stand out as most memorable from the lectures probably due to their connection to Christianity. I noticed from a lot of the photos and drawings, that the men wore a lot of facial hair and it struck me as funny and I wondered the social significance of all that. Thank you, Professor Crossley for making a class that I thought might be more on the dull side, very interesting when you included the visuals. They very much enhanced your lectures. I would love a lecture series done on the different foods from the different regions of China, maybe even on the development of sports and religion in this country. Interested. Thank you, Bonnie. I gave it four stars due to the first 4 or 5 classes, it was hard to hear the lecture as I do not have a computer at home so I am at the library and the lectures were too softly spoken and the sound was not able to be adjusted.. Then all of a sudden, further down, they got louder so that I was able to clearly make out what was being said without straining. This caused me frustration at first but that soon dissapated as the vocals began being more audible.

    • Onur Oztaskiran



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