Professor Lean has received the 2013-2014 Faculty Mentoring Award for faculty in Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and she is currently the Director of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute. Professor Lean has taught a wide range of topics with a focus on Late Imperial and Modern China. Her recent courses include Gender, Passions and Social Order in China Since 1500, Science and Technology in Late Imperial and Modern China, Qing and Modern China Documents and Bibliography.
Modern China II: China After Empire
This course explores some of the major issues in the history of China during the first three quarters of the twentieth-century. We begin with the decline of the Qing dynasty and tumultuous fall of China’s imperial system in 1911, and then move on to investigate how China sought to redefine itself anew in the twentieth-century. We examine how modern China explored republicanism, militarism, nationalism, and socialism as it searched for an appropriate system of modern governance and new ways of organizing society. War with Japan, the battle between the Nationalist Party and the Communists, and the urban-rural split will also be considered. The second part of the class focuses on the post-1949 era up until the death of Mao Zedong. The building of a PRC state, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution, will be central concerns. To complement this political narrative, we will also cover the cultural, intellectual and social developments during this time period and pay attention to issues of gender and class. Throughout the course we rely heavily on primary sources in translation to discuss these developments of the period and the use of documents in the construction of history.
Gender, Passions and Social Order in China Since 1500
This course explores the themes of love, virtue, and sexuality in the culture and history of late imperial, modern and contemporary China. Moving through five hundred years of history, the course not only examines how Chinese concepts of passion and sentiment changed over time, but also considers the links between these themes and the construction of orthodox morality, the demarcation of social status, the ordering of medical and judicial knowledge, and finally, the imagination of political identities. Gender is a crucial component in our analysis as we ask why these themes of love and sexuality were often associated with women in particular. Our class approaches the subject by using both primary sources (e.g., fiction, drama, medical manuals, Cultural Revolution posters) and secondary sources (e.g., theory, historiography).
Colloquium on Modern Chinese History
Broadly speaking, this graduate colloquium covers the history of modern China, and will provide a foundation for understanding central historiographic concerns to students of modern China. By focusing on the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries, moving through the last century of the Qing into the Republic and ending with the post-1949 period until today, the course examines the shift from empire to nation-state and then, to Party-state. The course also sheds light on China’s negotiation of a new and shifting global order, paying particular attention to circuits of imperialism, science and capitalism, and more recently, neo-liberalism. It introduces important historiographical debates centering on nationalism, revolution and citizenship, ethnicity, imperialism and de-colonization, industrialization, and the Cultural Revolution. Different methodological approaches will be considered. Students will compare a socio-political history approach, cultural analysis, intellectual history and global perspective. They will contrast studies of longue duree with microhistory, and examine studies that take as a central point of analysis class, gender, ethnicity, and/or science, technology and medicine.
Science and Technology in Late Imperial and Modern China
The aim of this graduate course is to provide a broad introduction to science and technology in late imperial and modern China, and their relationship to the world. The course examines the organization of knowledge about the natural and social order, and technologies, or methods for managing society, economy, and the natural world. It investigates how the understanding and politics of technology and knowing the natural world undergo considerable reconfiguration from the late imperial period to the modern period. To understand this shift, we consider questions of ways of knowing and material/institutional practice and power, technologies in governance, science and modern empire, global circuits and knowledge transfer, the formulation of the modern episteme of “science,” expertise and the production of knowledge, and issues of the environment. While spanning the imperial and modern periods, we place close attention to the global context and transnational connections. We look at the regional and global flows of ideas, technologies, and practices from the early modern age when merchant capitalism, colonialism, and science spread globally to an era of global socialism and late capitalism.
Different generations of scholarship will be reviewed, starting with the civilizational approach of Joseph Needham that assumes the divergence of knowledge, technologies and economies between “China” and “the West.” The course then moves to current interests in the global history of science that break down binary contrasts and emphasize common global processes and interconnections. By reading a wide mix of texts, we draw from the methodological work of history, anthropology of technology, sociology of knowledge, and science and technology studies.
Qing and Modern China Documents and Bibliography Course
This course is a document reading class designed to prepare graduate students for conducting research in Qing and modern Chinese history, and facilitate students in choosing research topics. The class will introduce students to sources, reference materials and key research tools. We will read documents and primary sources, and discuss how these materials suggest possible research directions. To ensure that students are engaging with the text, they will be expected to submit written translations of primary sources, as assigned. Students will also be expected to complete research exercises with which they can start conducting research on their particular topic of interest.