Mao Zedong, Revolution and China


An overview of modern Chinese history (late nineteenth century to around 1980), using the life of Mao Zedong (1893-1976) as a jumping-off point for discussions of Chinese political and cultural history.

Topics include: the fall of the Qing dynasty, Western imperialism, World War I, the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), the Cultural Revolution, economic reforms since 1976, women's history and religions in China.


This course uses the life and legacy of Mao Zedong (1893-1976) as a way to navigate China’s tumultuous history from the end of the nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth century.

Mao is generally acknowledged as a towering figure in Chinese history whose personality and ideology continue to influence national and world politics today. And yet a careful study of China’s twentieth century history reveals the limits, as well as the extent, of the influence of a “revolutionary” such as Mao Zedong.

In this course, students will use primary and secondary texts to sketch out the broader social and cultural landscape of modern China and evaluate the historical significance of Mao’s life and the Maoist ideology that was his legacy.


By the end of the course, you should have improved your ability

  • To find and analyse primary sources (i.e., first-hand accounts)
  • To read and critique secondary sources (i.e., accounts written by historians)
  • To gather primary and secondary sources together into a research essay shaped by your own original argument
  • To listen to and evaluate the arguments and opinions of others
  • To cite and reference in a manner appropriate to the genre of historical writing
  • To read efficiently and retentively
  • To write in polished and professional English


Coursework only

For full course information see the Digital Course Outline for HISTORY 213.

Digital Course Outlines are refreshed in November for the following year. Digital Course Outlines for courses to be offered for the first time may be published slightly later.

Availability 2024

Not taught in 2024




10% Participation

10% Primary Source Analysis

10% Secondary Source Analysis

30% Research Essay

20% Creative Primary Source Document

20% In-class Test


HISTORY 213: 15 points


60 points passed