Kevin Landdeck

Adda Bozeman Chair in International Relations

BA, Valparaiso University. MA, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. PhD, University of California-Berkeley. Recipient of a Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation dissertation grant for archival research in Chongqing, China. Research concerns 20th-century China, specifically Kuomintang war mobilization and interior society during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-45). Dissertation, “Under the Gun: Nationalist Military Service and Society in Wartime Sichuan, 1938-1945,” presently being revised for future publication, examines the state-making projects embedded within conscription and voluntary enlistment in Chiang Kai-shek’s army. Translating the confessions and jottings of a captured KMT spy, who spent 16 years undergoing self-reform in a communist prison, is a side project currently in progress. Key areas of interest include China’s transition from a dynastic empire to a nation-state; the role of war in state-making; modes of political mobilization and their intersection with social organization; and private life and selfhood, including national, regional, or local and personal identities. Broadly teaches on modern (17th century to present) East Asian history, with a focus on politics, society, and urban culture. In addition to a course on war in 20th-century Asia, a personal involvement in photography has inspired a course on photographic images and practice in China and Japan from the 19th century through the present. Member of the American Historical Association, Association of Asian Studies, and Historical Society for Twentieth-Century China. SLC, 2011–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Asian Studies

Gender and History in China: Beyond Eunuchs and Concubines

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Year

Open to sophomores and above. (First-year students may register with permission of the instructor.)

This seminar is a sustained historical exploration of gender in the Chinese context, which is not only significant in its own right but also serves to complicate some of the common Euro-American assumptions about family dynamics, emotional life, and gender hierarchies. We will treat female and male as historically constructed categories, examining how both have been tied to modes of power (familial, social, economic, and political); in other words, how men and women have been imagined and portrayed, made and mobilized, at different times. We will confront, head on, stereotypes about the passive Chinese woman and the Confucian family, asking: Where do we find and how do we understand women’s agency within the permutations of the traditional Chinese family? We will interrogate Imperial-era family conflicts and the practice of footbinding to highlight female agency within, and complicity with, the gender hierarchy. The appearance of feminism in the early 20th century and its subsequent fate will provide a window on how gender shaped revolution and how gender was, in turn, shaped by it. And rather than leave masculinity as an assumed constant, we will examine historical and cultural constructions of what it meant to be a man in China. Located between the poles of the scholar and the warrior, Chinese manliness exhibits unfamiliar contours and traits. The course also covers same-sex desire in both traditional and modern China. For example, in the Late Imperial era, we will look at homoeroticism among fashionable elite men and at female “marriage resisters” who dared to form all-women communities in a society where marriage was virtually universal. Class readings consist primarily of historical scholarship; however, (translated) primary sources pepper the course and include ritual prescriptions, (auto)biographies, essays, drama, and fiction that ground our inquiries in the authenticity of Chinese voices. Due to its reading load, this seminar is listed as “intermediate” but requires no prior knowledge of Chinese history.

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History

Gender and History in China: Beyond Eunuchs and Concubines

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Year

Open to sophomores and above. (First-year students may register with permission of the instructor.)

This seminar is a sustained historical exploration of gender in the Chinese context, which is not only significant in its own right but also serves to complicate some of the common Euro-American assumptions about family dynamics, emotional life, and gender hierarchies. We will treat female and male as historically constructed categories, examining how both have been tied to modes of power (familial, social, economic, and political). In other words, how men and women have been imagined and portrayed, made and mobilized, at different times. We will confront, head on, stereotypes about the passive Chinese woman and the Confucian family, asking where do we find and how do we understand women’s agency within the permutations of the traditional Chinese family? We will interrogate Imperial Era family conflicts and the practice of footbinding to highlight female agency within, and complicity with, the gender hierarchy. The appearance of feminism in the early 20th century and its subsequent fate will provide a window on how gender shaped revolution and how gender was, in turn, shaped by it. And rather than leave masculinity as an assumed constant, we will examine historical and cultural constructions of what it meant to be a man in China. Located between the poles of the scholar and the warrior, Chinese manliness exhibits unfamiliar contours and traits. The course also covers same-sex desire in both traditional and modern China. For example, in the late Imperial Era, we will look at homoeroticism among fashionable elite men and at female “marriage resisters” who dared to form all-women communities in a society where marriage was virtually universal. Class readings consist primarily of historical scholarship; however, (translated) primary sources pepper the course and include ritual prescriptions, (auto)biographies, essays, drama, and fiction that ground our inquiries into the authenticity of Chinese voices. Due to its reading load, this seminar is listed as “intermediate” but requires no prior knowledge of Chinese history.
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Previous Courses

Crucible of History: China and Japan in World War II, 1937-45

Open , Seminar—Spring

Accounts of World War II in Asia (1937-45) have long been dominated by US perspectives that narrate the inevitable defeat of Japanese “treachery” (Pearl Harbor) and “depravity” (the Bataan death march, the rape of Nanking) by American heroism (Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal) and technological might (the atom bombs). This seminar seeks to complicate this familiar narrative by examining what usually gets left out of such perspectives: the war in China and Japan. Beginning in 1937, four years before Pearl Harbor, hostilities in Asia purportedly ended in mid-1945; but the fighting actually continued in some areas of China. And even today, the war’s wounds linger, raw and sensitive, all over the region in the bodies of individuals, in collective memories, and in international relations. While this course will not delve into individual battles, it will examine the causes of the war, the experience of warfare in both China and Japan, and the tangled legacies of the conflict. Those legacies include a Communist revolution in China and a contradiction-filled American occupation of Japan, both of which deeply shaped subsequent history and how the war has been remembered and commemorated in both societies. Our course material ranges through the terrain of contemporary journalism, historical scholarship, memoirs, propaganda, fiction, and film. We will cover Chinese collaboration with Japan in order to highlight the distorting influence of national orthodoxies and conventional patriotic understandings of the war. The Nanjing Atrocity (December 1937) will be examined in some depth as a lens not only on how the war was fought—but also on postwar political debates over responsibility and on the epistemological challenges that modern war presents. (Can we even know “what happened”?) And we will also tackle the singular instance of nuclear warfare, the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and their place in American mythologies about the war and their social and cultural impacts on the survivors. Beneath the surface of this course are implicit questions about the limits of historical representation. Can we construct an authentic story for a conflict of this magnitude and complexity? Or does the contingency, chaos, and suffering defy coherent understanding? Can we, in fact, understand modern war? Or do all of our lenses inevitably distort it and mislead us?

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Asian Imperialisms, 1600-1953

Open , Seminar—Fall

East Asia, like much of the globe, has been powerfully shaped by the arrival and presence of imperialist power in the region. In fact, nationalism in both China and Japan is founded upon resistance to the encroachments of Western imperialism. Both nations cast themselves as victims to the rapacious West. And yet, often unnoticed by patriots and pundits, both China and Japan are deeply indebted to their own domestic imperialisms, albeit in very different ways. Relying on a wide range of course materials (historical scholarship, paintings, lithographs, photographs, literature, and relevant primary sources), this course is an intensive investigation of the contours of Asian imperialism, covering the colonialism of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), the aggressive Western expansion in the 19th century, and the Japanese Empire (1895-1945). We will ask what features (if any) these very different empires shared and what set them apart from each other. How and why were Asian empires built, how did they end, and what legacies did they leave? We will excavate the multiethnic Qing imperium for how it complicates China’s patriotic master narrative. Does Qing ethnic policy toward native Miao tribes differ from Western racism and its familiar Civilizing Discourse? And what are the legacies of Qing colonialism for China’s modern nation-state? The Qing campaigns to subjugate the Mongols in the northwest and the colonization of the untamed southwest both predated the arrival of the Westerners and the Opium War (1839-42). How does this impact our understanding of the clash between China and the rapidly expanding West? We will trace earlier views on the classic confrontation between these two presumed entities before examining more recent revisionist formulations on the Western penetration of China. What were the processes of Western intrusion, and how did Western imperialism come to structure knowledge of China? And finally, we will turn to the Japanese empire. What were its motivations, its main phases, and its contradictions? Should we understand it as similar to Western imperialism or as an alternative, something
unique? What are the implications of both those positions? To understand the Japanese Empire in both its experiential and theoretical dimensions, we will range widely across Japan’s possessions in Taiwan, Korea, and Manchuria. The questions and topics in this seminar will complicate the master narratives that prevail in both East Asia and the West—not to delegitimize or subvert Asian sovereignties but in order to understand the deeply embedded narratives of imperialism within those sovereign claims and to see how those narratives (and their blind spots) continue to frame and support policies and attitudes today.

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China’s 20th-Century Through Fiction

Open , Seminar—Year

In 1902, China’s leading intellectual and political theorist, Liang Qichao, observed, “If one intends to renovate the people of a nation, one must first renovate its fiction.” In the century after Liang penned this call for a new literature, reformers, radicals, and regimes repeatedly placed fiction at the center of the national project of modernity. Exploring literature’s contribution to the construction of the Chinese national body in its cultural, social, ethnic, and gender dimensions, this yearlong seminar uses short stories and novels as windows on a cataclysmic century filled with wars, political revolutions, cultural change, and social upheaval. As writers participated in and commented on these traumatic events, fiction was a key battleground for political and cultural change. In the fall, we will encounter short stories and novels that carried forward radical demolitions of the Confucian cultural tradition and political critiques in the first half of the century. Beginning in the 1920s, urban feminists—initially less concerned with the national plight—wrote to promote the emancipation of the individual, while a decade later leftist writers exposed the evils of Western imperialism and capitalist exploitation. How did these various works contribute to a revolutionary movement? Despite an overall focus on the political dimension, we will take time out to consider a few more lyrically inclined writers, who left the political arena to others and explored China’s ethnic margins and the intricate and private dramas of love and despair. In the spring semester, we will delve into the socialist realism of Communist fiction to identify its unique qualities and role in Maoist political life before turning to the literary reassessments of Maoist excesses in the reform era (1980s) and the place of literature in the neoliberal atmosphere of post-Tiananmen (1989) China. We will interrogate fictional works in postrevolutionary China for how they deal with and understand China’s revolutionary past, its ragged cultural tradition, and a rapidly changing society and economy. What is the relationship between art and politics in these ostensibly (even studiously!) apolitical works? And finally, we will also cover Taiwanese literature from the 1960s through the 1990s, as it, too, grappled with economic
development, its political basis, and social effects. Our readings in the fall include many of the great characters in early 20th-century literature, such as Lu Xun’s cannibalistic madman and hapless Ah Q, Ding Ling’s tubercular Miss Sophie, Shen Congwen’s Hmong villages, and Zhang Ailing’s college student turned mistress-assassin. In the spring, we will also meet Mo Yan’s blood-drenched bandits, Yu Hua’s long-suffering peasant, and Mian Mian’s disaffected urban youths in an age of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. No prerequisite knowledge of China (history or literature) is required for this course.

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Making Modern East Asia: Empires and Nations, 1700-2000

Open , Seminar—Year

This yearlong seminar is a sustained look at the recent history of China and Japan, the major countries in East Asia. Placed alongside each other, the often wrenching history of Japan and China over the past three centuries raises important historical themes of Asian modernity, questioning both its sources and how we define it. Often portrayed as a direct import from the West in the 19th century, we will ask whether modernity might instead be traced to legacies of Japan’s isolationist feudalism and China’s multiethnic Manchu dynasty, even as we acknowledge the far-reaching impact of Euro-American imperialism. Both China and Japan have entrenched master narratives that portray themselves as victims of the West, but we will also investigate the contours of Asian imperialism: Qing dynasty colonization of the untamed Southwest and the Japanese Empire (1895-1945). What features (if any) did these different empires share, and what set them apart from others? Does Qing ethnic policy toward native Miao tribes differ from Western racism and its Civilizing Discourse? What about Japanese colonial rule on Taiwan (1895-1945) or Korea (1910-1945)—or even toward Japan’s internal Other, the Ainu on Hokkaido? In short, how and why were Asian empires built, and how did they end? In both polities, how were nation-states formed, and how was nationalism constructed (and reconstructed)? What role did wrenching socioeconomic, cultural, and international crises play in fueling nationalist sentiments? How and where was radicalism (of various forms, including radical Maoism) incubated? The impact of war, preparing for it, waging it, and rebuilding in its wake will be a repeated theme, too. And finally, we will look at Asia’s economic dynamism, covering both Japan’s post-World War II capitalism (and its roots in the wartime imperialist project) and China’s transition to a market economy. Course readings consist of historical scholarship regularly punctuated by primary sources, documents, fiction, and some film.

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First-Year Studies: Reform and Revolution: China’s 20th Century

Open , FYS

In 1900, China was a faltering empire ruled by an autocratic foreign dynastic house and an entrenched bureaucracy of Confucian officials. Its sovereignty heavily battered and its territory compromised by foreign powers, it was commonly called “The Sick Man of Asia.” In 2000, China was a modern nation-state ruled by an authoritarian party and an entrenched bureaucracy of technocrats and administrators. With a surging economy, swollen foreign reserves, dazzling modern cities, and a large and technologically advanced military, China is regularly predicted to be the next global superpower. Yet, the path between these two startlingly different points was anything but smooth. China’s 20th century was a tortuous one, full of tragedy, incredible hardships, wrenching setbacks, and disastrous disappointments. Policymakers, elites, and the common people oscillated between the poles of reform and revolution—bouts of wild radicalism alternated with more sober policies—as they pursued changes that they hoped would bring a better society and nation. This course examines some of the major events and personalities of this arduous century and its momentous political, social, and cultural changes. We will learn and apply skills of historical analysis to primary documents (in translation), some fiction, and film. Along the way, we will encounter a rich cast of characters, including Sun Yatsen, China’s “national father,” colorful warlords, corrupt bureaucrats, fervent intellectuals, protesting youths, heroic communist martyrs, the towering and enigmatic chairman Mao, long-suffering peasants, and fanatical Red Guards. These men and women made and remade modern China. This class is history and thus is not primarily concerned with contemporary China; but by the end of the year, students will be well-equipped with an understanding of China’s recent past—knowledge that will help immeasurably in making sense of today’s China as it becomes increasingly important in our globalized economy and society.

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Post-Revolutionary Chinese Fiction: The Novel as History in a Neo-Liberal Age

Open , Seminar—Spring

This seminar looks to mainland and Taiwanese fiction as a window on recent Chinese history. In the 1980s, China emerged from the paroxysms of the Maoist period (1949-76) and began its transition toward a market-based economy. Accompanying this economic liberalization, many of the tight political controls on writers were loosened. All types of literature, but particularly fiction, boomed. China returned to its rich heritage of a book culture, with a mass book market sustained by avid consumers. And Chinese fiction has won an international audience and acclaim, culminating in 2011 with Mo Yan’s Nobel prize in literature. Literature, thus, stands at the heart of China’s post-revolutionary history. We will interrogate fictional works in post-revolutionary China for how they deal with and understand a rapidly changing society and economy. What are the legacies of decades of revolution for Chinese literature? By examining narratives that deal with the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), we will look at how writers have assessed and appropriated the Maoist period, especially the experience of intellectuals “sent down” to the countryside. How did the “nativist” fiction of the 1980s and 1990s reevaluate Chinese tradition and traditional society? Urban fiction, often decadent and gritty, will raise issues of how authors and narratives portray China’s breakneck economic development. What is the relationship between art and politics in these works? Do they tacitly support or subtly resist political authoritarianism? We will also look at Taiwanese literature from the 1960s through the 1990s, as it, too, grappled with economic development, its political basis, and social effects. Along the way, we will encounter Mo Yan’s blood-drenched bandit heroes; Yu Hua’s long-suffering peasant; Su Tong’s vicious sadists; disaffected urban youths in an age of sex, drugs, and rock and roll; Han Shaogong’s novel written in the form of a dictionary; and Bai Xianyong’s homosexual young men searching for love. The majority of the course consists of fiction from mainland China and Taiwan, but we will also read some short memoir pieces by novelists and the debates in Western media about Mo Yan’s 2011 Nobel prize. There is no prerequisite knowledge of China (history or literature) for this course.

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