Course Code


Course Name

Trauma and Memory in 20th and 21st Century China


Thursday 2:30-6:15pm





Teaching Assistant

Mavis SIU

Course Description

This course will use cinematic and literary texts to explore several traumatic events in China’s recent history. We will focus on nine such events: the Nanjing Massacre, the 228 Incident, the Anti-Rightist Movement, the Great Famine, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the June Fourth Incident, violence in Tibet, COVID-19, and the Hong Kong anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill protests. These events resulted in different types of (national/collective) trauma: to that caused by foreign invasion to those stemming from intra-Chinese violence, centerperiphery tensions and a global natural disaster.
Students will be asked to reflect on the way trauma is remembered, and on how the past is often rewritten in the service of the present. Central themes of the course will be history and its representation, the function of memory and trauma in the construction of (national) identity, the moral issues involved in the representation of trauma, and the importance of  remembering and avoiding the repetition of past catastrophes.

Course Outline

Detailed Course Outline is available on Blackboard.

Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: Nanjing Massacre

Week 3: Nanjing Massacre

Week 4: No class

Week 5: 228 Incident

Week 6: 228 Incident

Week 7: Anti-Rightist Movement

Week 8: Great Famine

Week 9: Cultural Revolution

Week 10: Cultural Revolution

Week 11: June Fourth

Week 12: Tibet

Week 13: No Class

Week 14: Wenchuan Earthquake

Week 15: Hong Kong Protests

Assessment & Assignments

Participation (10%)

Reading Reflection (30%)

Short assignment (20%)

Final paper (40%)

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.