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Transforming History

The Making of a Modern Academic Discipline in Twentieth-Century China

Edited by Brian Moloughney and Peter Zarrow

Publication Year: 2012

Transforming History examines the profound transformation of historical thought and practice of writing history from the late Qing through the mid-twentieth century. The authors devote extensive analysis to the common set of intellectual and political forces that shaped the study of history, from the ideas of evolution, positivism, nationalism, historicism, and Marxism, to political processes such as revolution, imperialism, and modernization. Also discussed are the impact and problems associated with the nation-state as the subject of history, the linear model of historical time, and the spatial system of nation-states. The result is a convincing study that illustrates how history has transformed into a modern academic discipline in China.

Published by: Chinese University Press

Series: The Formation of Disciplines Series

Half Title Page

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pp. 1-2

Title Page

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p. 3-3


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p. 4-4


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pp. v-vi

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About the Series

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pp. vii-viii

The series is the principal outcome of three annual workshops held in Canberra, Beijing and Hong Kong between 2007 and 2009 on the topic of “the Formation and Development of Academic Disciplines in Twentieth-Century China.” Our aim in these workshops was to construct a historically informed multidisciplinary framework ...

List of Contributors

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pp. ix-xii

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1. Making History Modern: The Transformation of Chinese Historiography, 1895–1937

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pp. 1-46

The transformation that led to the establishment of a modern historical discipline in China took place in the forty-year period following the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–95. It was the product of the fusion of inherited practice and global developments in historiography. ...

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2. The Marginalization of Classical Studies and the Rising Prominence of Historical Studies during the Late Qing and Early Republic: A Reappraisal

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pp. 47-74

In both the wider society and the intellectual world, traditional Chinese orthodoxies went into decline in the modern period. At the same time, that which had been marginal rose to greater prominence. When discussing this aspect of Chinese intellectual history of the late Qing and early Republican periods ...

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3. Historical Lessons and the History of Knowledge in the Late Qing Examination System

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pp. 75-102

Following reforms introduced by the Qing government, in 1902 the eight-legged essay (bagu wen) examination format that had been employed for almost six hundred years was officially abolished. The government had announced in 1901 that, from the following year, examinations would use a new format, ...

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4. Narrating the Nation: Meiji Historiography, New History Textbooks, and the Disciplinarization of History in China

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pp. 103-134

It goes without saying that how history is written today in China differs markedly from how it was in its long imperial period. When did this change happen? What were the sources for the change? And, how did this stylistic, or historiographic, alteration influence the formation of history as an academic discipline in China? ...

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5. The Impact of the Linear Model of History on Modern Chinese Historiography

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pp. 135-168

Since the late nineteenth century, the language, methods, and theoretical underpinnings of Chinese historiography have undergone dramatic change. The rise of the linear model of history was an extremely significant aspect of this development, one that rendered it impossible for historians to continue to write history in the traditional manner. ...

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6. Discipline and Narrative: Chinese History Textbooks in the Early Twentieth Century

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pp. 169-208

If we grant that two of the characteristics of modern historiography include treating the nation as the main historical subject and narrating a story in the form of more or less linear, progressive time, then history textbooks were the chief means of disseminating modern historical approaches. ...

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7. Creating Academic Qing History: Xiao Yishan and Meng Sen

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pp. 209-240

The remembering of the Qing has been a struggle no less political than the overthrow of the dynasty itself in 1911. A large amount of narratives of Qing history began to emerge, often in the form of personal accounts and miscellaneous essays, when the imperial state, faced with domestic and international crises, ...

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8. Myth and the Making of History: Gu Jiegang and the Gushi bian Debates

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pp. 241-270

For most of Chinese history, the received wisdom was that Confucius was the one who had done this; he had transmitted the literary legacy of that “far-off, ancient beginning of things,” and in doing so he created the body of texts that became the canon—the classics. ...

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9. Nation, History, and Ethics: The Choices of Post-imperial Historiography in China

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pp. 271-302

The history of modern Chinese historical thought and writing is characterized by a close interaction between indigenous traditions and the modern Western post-Enlightenment views of history and historiography. In this process of interaction, a progressive, often also teleological view of history was dominant, ...

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10. Marking the Boundaries: The Rise of Historical Geography in Republican China

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pp. 303-334

In current scholarship, the founding of academic disciplines is widely accepted as a benchmark for Chinese modernity. For many scholars, the specialization in the academy is a potent symbol of China being connected to the global network of scientific and scholarly research.1 ...

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11. Filling in the Nation: The Spatial Trajectory of Prehistoric Archaeology in Twentieth-Century China

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pp. 335-374

The link between the modern science of archaeology and political nationalism has been well established within the academic literature, with a number of studies demonstrating how “archaeologists in the service of the state frequently have manipulated archaeological remains to justify the ownership of land claimed to have been held ‘from time immemorial’ ...

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12. Marxism and Social History

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pp. 375-402

Nationalist ferment launched a new historical consciousness, and a new historiography in the late Qing period. Conflicts over different conceptualizations of the nation, and corresponding understandings of the nationalist project, since then have continued to animate Chinese historiography. ...


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pp. 403-430

E-ISBN-13: 9789629969028
Print-ISBN-13: 9789629964795

Page Count: 444
Illustrations: N
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: The Formation of Disciplines Series