Course Code

CHES2100/ UGEC2431

Course Name

The Cultural Revolution


Tuesday 10:30am-12:15pm
Thursday 1:30-2:15pm


YIA 402 (Tuesday)
CYT 203 (Thursday)


WANG Xiaoxuan

Teaching Assistant

Liu Songyu/Chen Siyu

Course Description

This class introduces the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, a landmark event that defines the early history of the People’s Republic of China. It was launched by Mao in the summer of 1966 and officially ended in 1978. Nevertheless, the Cultural Revolution has continued to overshadow Chinese society today. It has also been a source of endless fascination for scholars and other observers from the beginning. What is cultural and revolutionary about the Cultural Revolution? This course will walk you through the precursor, process and legacies of the Cultural Revolution. It begins with an overview of the Cultural Revolution in Chinese history and Mao’s vision of a new China. We will look into the roles of early PRC campaigns and the international socialist world in shaping Mao’s decision to launch the Cultural Revolution. The class will then present the full picture of the Cultural Revolution from various aspects, from elite politics in Beijing to local factional struggles and international receptions, from the Red Guard movement to Sent-down Youth, and from the Mao cult and extreme violence to everyday life experience. Four decades on, the legacy of the Cultural Revolution has not faded away at all as it remains a contentious issue in Chinese life and politics. We will discuss the footprints that the Cultural Revolution left on Chinese society and how it has been remembered, commemorated and contested.

Course Outline

Detailed Course Outline is available on Blackboard.

Week 1: The Cultural Revolution in Chinese History

Week 2: The Rise of Mao and His Vision of a New China

Week 3: Early PRC Campaigns; International Socialist Word (1949-1965)

Week 4: The Launching of the Cultural Revolution

Week 5: The Rise of the Radicals and the Cult of Mao

Week 6: Chaos and the Establishment of Military Rule

Week 7: Violence in the Cultural Revolution

Week 8: What is Cultural about the Cultural Revolution?

Week 9: The Chinese Cultural Revolution as World History

Week 10: From Red Guards to The Sent-down Educated Youth

Week 11: Silent Revolution: The Discussion of Commune; Unorthodoxy Thought and the Emergence of the Second Society

Week 12: Fall of the Heir and the Death of Mao

Week 13: Contested Legacies

Assessment & Assignments

Class participation (20%)
Midterm examination (25%)
In-class quizzes (20%)
The final exam (35%)

Honesty in Academic Work

Attention is drawn to University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and to the disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations. Details may be found at

With each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of these policies, regulations, guidelines and procedures.

  • In the case of group projects, all members of the group should be asked to sign the declaration, each of whom is responsible and liable to disciplinary actions, irrespective of whether he/she has signed the declaration and whether he/she has contributed, directly or indirectly, to the problematic contents.
  • For assignments in the form of a computer-generated document that is principally text-based and submitted via VeriGuide, the statement, in the form of a receipt, will be issued by the system upon students’ uploading of the soft copy of the assignment.

Assignments without the properly signed declaration will not be graded by teachers.

Only the final version of the assignment should be submitted via VeriGuide.

The submission of a piece of work, or a part of a piece of work, for more than one purpose (e.g. to satisfy the requirements in two different courses) without declaration to this effect shall be regarded as having committed undeclared multiple submissions. It is common and acceptable to reuse a turn of phrase or a sentence or two from one’s own work; but wholesale reuse is problematic. In any case, agreement from the course teacher(s) concerned should be obtained prior to the submission of the piece of work.