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China under the ruling of Mao Zedong 1949-1976 History Research Paper (Research Paper Sample)


HIS 391/AS 391   China in the World              Fall 2019


Guidelines for the Prospectus, Paper, and Blog Post


As part of the work of the class, you will write a paper on a topic of your choice within the general framework of the course and its themes. There are two possible models for this paper:


1) Analyze a primary source, as we do in most of the Reading Reports. Identify a primary source on a topic that interests you. Find some aspect of it that you think is significant. Discuss that aspect of it, drawing on at least two scholarly articles (or book chapters) related to the topic. For instance, if you were to choose to focus on religious beliefs among sailors at the time of Ch’oe Pu and what they can tell us about worldviews in 15th-century East Asia, then the Ch’oe Pu diary would be your primary source and you would locate two or more scholarly articles about religious beliefs in 15th-century East Asia to refer to as you discuss the material in Ch’oe Pu’s diary. These scholarly articles should shed light on the primary source (you will explain how they do as you analyze the primary source). I encourage you to search around for primary and secondary sources on topics you are interested in, but I am happy to offer help locating good ones. History librarian Mike Kicey would also be happy to help. His email address is


2) Compare how two or more scholars have analyzed some topic you are interested in. Here the emphasis is not on your own analysis of a primary source, but on your ability to understand, evaluate, and compare two or more interpretations of history. For example, some scholars think the Tribute System was extremely significant in shaping China’s relations to the outside word throughout much of the imperial period. Others say a Tribute System never really existed. Read arguments by a scholar in each group and compare them. Why do they come to different conclusions? Which is more convincing?  I would be happy to help you locate interesting and diverse scholarship on a topic that interests you. I would expect you to compare at least two books or four articles or some similar combination of books and articles.


Notes: Your sources can include films or novels that interpret the history of China in the world, but you need to consult some scholarly sources, too. If you read Chinese, you are very welcome to base your paper on Chinese-language scholarship and primary sources.


PROSPECTUS: Your paper prospectus will start with a statement of the topic you are interested in and why you think it is interesting and significant. It will include a properly formatted bibliography of the sources you plan to use in your paper. (I prefer Chicago style; see here for formatting rules: The prospectus doesn’t need to be more than a page long. DUE OCTOBER 29.


FIRST DRAFT: Your first draft is due NOVEMBER 21 (email it to me BEFORE class). Please write as complete a draft as you can (the final paper should be around 2000 words), because that makes it easier for me to write useful comments on it, which you can use as you revise it for final submission. I can’t promise to comment extensively on late first drafts. Make sure your thesis statement (main point you want readers to take from your paper) is in the first paragraph, as well as an explanation of the organization of the paper (how you will move from topic to topic). I think it’s a good idea also to use subsection headings in your paper to help the reader see how you are organizing your argument. Your first draft MUST have a descriptive title, page numbers, proper citation, and a well formatted bibliography.


BLOG POST: I will have a separate handout on this. Your blog post is due on NOVEMBER 28.


FINAL DRAFT: Revise your first draft, taking into account my comments on it, and email me a final draft of about 2000 words by 5 pm on DECEMBER 10.


China under Mao Zedong (1949-1976)
Student’s Name
Institutional Affiliation
China under Mao Zedong (1949-1976)
China underwent a myriad of changes during the 20th century. Since the establishment of the first republic, Zedong contributed to Chinese society in diverse ways. Notably, most scholars argue that Mao Zedong introduced crucial land reforms in the country and greatly helped raise the economy of the nation. However, despite his role in historiography of the 20th century, historians vary on the interpretation of China’s strong man. Some regard him as the worst dictator of the 20th century. These historians cite a plethora of deaths that marred the country during this period. After an overview on Mao’s political career, I explore diverse views on Mao’s contribution to the Chinese history and the economy at large. These discussions will include assessment of the policies introduced during Mao’s reign including agricultural reforms and the Great leap forward. I argue that Mao is a hero in the Communist Party, but a villain among some citizens.
Lu (2017) depicts China Communist Party’s (CPP) description of Zedong as the "red sun" of China. This depiction portrays a positive attitude towards Zedong during the Communist reign. In her book, Lu traces the origin of Zedong to his birthplace in Shaoshan, Hunan, in 1893. Lu denotes that Zedong was born in a stable peasant family. The family ventured in both small business and farming activities as the primary source of income. Notably, Zedong’s father strived to educate him to help the family with bookkeeping responsibilities later. The book elaborates that it is this aspect of education that exposed Zedong to the crucial political perceptions that he would later use to transform China. However, Lu’s book, The Rhetoric of Mao Zedong mostly addresses Mao Zedong in the Communist’s Party perceptions. In most instances, Lu differs with CCP’s positions regarding the perceived Mao’s achievements.

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