Personal Narratives: Identity and History in Modern China


This yearlong seminar explores the realm of private life and individual identity and their relationship to the historical events and changes taking place in modern China from the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) into the Reform era (2000s). Our investigations will cover an eclectic mix of “personal” writings: diaries, letters, memoirs, oral testimony, autobiographies, third-party anthropological reconstructions of individuals, and (auto)biographical fiction. Among others, we will encounter late imperial Confucian radicals and mystics, petty literati, young urban women and their mothers with bound feet, peasants, radical revolutionaries, intellectuals, Maoist Red Guards, and factory workers.