CCCH9047 China: Culture, State and Society
Will the ‘Real’ China Please Stand Up?: Interpreting Chinese Civilization


Course Description

This course asks, what do we really know about China, its politics, society, culture, economy and ways of life? By discussing a range of ‘sinographies’ – ways of writing about China and Chineseness, each of which has something to teach us about the similarities and differences between our own and other cultures as they approach the civilization of China, the course encourages students to develop a more critical approach towards various representations about China and to identify the ways in which writing about China may obscure as much as it reveals about a possible ‘real’ China.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Explain major problems and controversies relating to different interpretations and descriptions of China.
  2. Analyse the differences between various interpretations and descriptions of China.
  3. Discuss critically issues arising from different interpretations and descriptions of China.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First Semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 8
Reading / Self-study 38
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 30
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 20
Total: 120

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Tutorial participation 30
Log book 30
Project 40

Required Reading

  • Hung, H. -F. (2015). The China Boom: Why China will not rule the world. [Introduction ‘Sinomania and Capitalism’ & conclusion ‘After the Boom’]
  • Jacques, M. (2009). When China rules the world: The end of the western world and the birth of a new global order. [Excerpts]
  • Said, E. (1978). Orientalism. [Introduction]
  • Spence, J. (1998). The Chan’s great continent: China in western minds. New York: W. W. Norton.

Recommended Reading

  • Johansson, P. (2012). Saluting the yellow emperor: A case of Swedish sinography (Sinica Leidensia; v. 104). Leiden; Boston: Brill.
  • Johansson, P. (2015). The libidinal economy of China: Gender, nationalism, and consumer culture. Lexington Books.
  • Roberts, J. A. G. (Ed.). China through western eyes: The twentieth century, a reader in history.

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr J.P. Johansson Vig
School of Humanities (History), Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 7935
Email: pejoh@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr J.P. Johansson Vig
School of Humanities (History), Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 7935
Email: pejoh@hku.hk