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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Mahlon D. Meyer
HSTAS 455
Seattle Campus

Modern History of Taiwan

Introduces the 20th century history of Taiwan. Looks at political, social, and economic history up to the present.

Class description

The course will cover the history of Taiwan from its earliest conception in the minds of Chinese and Europeans to its present day strategic, economic and cultural relationship with mainland China and the U.S. The course is part of the emerging field known as Taiwan Studies which seeks to understand the uniqueness of Taiwan through an exploration of its history, interdependent with China's and other parts of the world. The course will cover topics including, early Chinese encounters with Taiwanese aborigines, Koxinga, the Lin Shuang-wen uprising and the formation of violent secret societies, the Kangxi Emperor's conquest and then decision to abandon Taiwan, Taiwan as a breadbasket for the Ming and Qing dynasties, life under Japanese occupation, the debacle at the beginning of Nationalist rule, White Terror, the lives of Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo and the interface between their personal histories and the course of history, the transition to reforms and commercial success, the emergence of a new consciousness, the repeated traumatization of the Nationalist loyalists, their reunification with families on the mainland, and the current policies of the administration.

Student learning goals

Students will be able to read primary sources on a sophisticated level presenting multiple meanings and interpretations.

Actively refine their critical thinking skills through historical analysis in presentations and papers.

Understand the formation of the unique Taiwanese identity through reading exciting memoirs of leading activists who lived through the formation of modern Taiwan.

Draw links between the continuing revolutions on the mainland and the repressions and convulsions on Taiwan (this is part of the emerging field of Taiwan Studies -- seeing both sides as part of one continuum).

Learn techniques for improving both commercially-viable and academically relevant writing (the instructor is a former award-winning veteran Newsweek correspondent) and the director of the History Writing Center as well as the author of three published books.

Possible career opportunities through developing connections with guests to class.

General method of instruction

Lectures, student presentations, class activities with sources, some debates and discussions with leading personages in the field, such as Taiwanese businessmen, the North American representative of the administration on Taiwan (who will visit the class), and perhaps a mainland Chinese official and others.

Recommended preparation

Some knowledge of Chinese history. Some experience in historical writing. Although the instructor has experience coaching students of all backgrounds.

Class assignments and grading

One research paper with preparatory assignments, class presentations, in-class discussion of literature and historical sources.

In-class work is graded by participation, research paper and presentations are graded on 4.0 scale. Other supplementary work also on 4.0 scale.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Mahlon D. Meyer
Date: 03/18/2013