Past and Present Essay 2

Length: 1,800-2,000 words (6-7 pages)


The goal of this assignment is to create an original piece of writing that analyzes and explains the historical context of Chinas current environmental predicaments. In other words, the essay should relate research on Chinas environmental history to present-day environmental concerns. PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY!


In addition to a least one news article published since 2016, your Past and Present Essay needs to draw upon the lectures, films, and required readings.

You also need to refer to at least two titles from the suggested readings listed in the syllabus that are related to the topic you decide to write about.

Books listed in the suggested readings can be found through the UCSD Library Catalog (

Academic journal articles can be found by searching the databases listed in the Articles section of the HIEA 155 Library Guide ( JSTOR and Project Muse will be most useful.

You can also try searching for the readings you are looking for using Google Scholar (

You will need to log on to the UCSD VPN to access most of the suggested books and articles unless you are on campus.

If you have difficulty finding a particular book or article, contact the instructor.


Your essay needs to include:

1) A title that captures the topic and main point of your essay. [5 points]

2) An introduction that explains the purpose of the essay and the main issues to be addressed. [10 points]

3) A specific, clear, and argumentative thesis statement in the introduction that explains what you intend to argue in the essay. [10 points]

4) Sections that address the key issues and include accurate, specific evidence, correct citations, and analysis to support your thesis statement. Each section should have its own topic heading.  [15 points]

5) Reference to at least one news article. [10]

6) References to at least two suggested readings. [10]

7) References to relevant lectures, assigned readings, and movies. [10]

8) Clear, grammatical, and accessible writing. [10 points]

9) Cogent and logical organization and structure. [10 points]

10) An effective conclusion that summarizes the reports findings and their significance. [10 points]

[Total: 100 points]

If you are not sure how to approach this essay assignment, you can consult the online Chinese environmental history articles from China Dialogue by Jonathan Schlesinger, David Bello, Mindi Schneider et al, Robert Marks, Ling Zhang, Xiangli Ding, Victor Seow, Peter Lavelle, and Mary Brazelton as examples.


All your references should adhere to the American Historical Review (AHR) citation style. The footnote style used by the AHR generally follows conventions recommended by The Chicago Manual of Style. You do not need to include a bibliography.

      Placement of Notes. A footnote number should come at the end of a sentence or at least at the end of a clause wherever possible. Footnote numbers always follow quoted or cited material; they should not be placed after authors’ names or other references preceding the cited matter.
      Citing Books. The first citation of a book should take the following format:
Gerhard L. Weinberg, A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II (Cambridge, 1994).

Subsequent citations should take the following format: Weinberg, A World at Arms, 132-33.

Note that only the last name of the author is provided in a subsequent reference, along with a shortened version of the title. The publication information is not repeated. The short title should use words in sequence from the main title only.

      Citing Book Chapters/Sections. A book chapter, essay, or book section should take the following format:
John H. Hanson, Islam and African Societies, in Phyllis M. Martin and Patrick O’Meara, eds., Africa, 3rd ed. (Bloomington, Ind., 1995), 97-114.

Subsequent citations should take the following format:

Hanson, Islam and African Societies, 98.

      Citing Class Lectures. If you are citing a class lecture, include your professor’s name, title of the lecture in quotation marks, the course number and name and the location and date.
Allen Seager, “Women and the Church in New France,” History 204: The Social History of Canada (class lecture, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, January 2011).

If you have any questions about how to cite specific types of sources, you can find the answer using the following citation guide.


Please double-space your written assignment, use a standard 12 point font such as Arial or Times New Roman (i.e. not Comic Sans), and submit it on Canvas as a Word document.


The written assignment will be due by 11:59pm (San Diego Time) on March 20, 2021.

WEEK 6: RIVERS 2, The Yangzi River

Chris Courtney, Picturing disaster: The 1931 Wuhan flood (Links to an external site.)

Covell F. Meyskens, Building a Dam for China in the Three Gorges Region, 1919-1971. In Filippo Menga and Erik Swyngedouw, eds. Water, Technology and the Nation-State (London: Routledge, 2018), pp. 207-222.

Watch the film Up the Yangtze (2007). (Links to an external site.)

Suggested readings:

Brian Lander, State Management of River Dikes in Early China: New Sources on the Environmental History of the Central Yangzi Region, Toung Pao 100:4-5 (2014), 325-362.

Shiba Yoshinobu, Environment Versus Water Control: The Case of the Southern Hangzhou Bay Area From the Mid-Tang Through the Qing, in Mark Elvin and Tsui-jung Liu, ed. Sediments of Time: Environment and Society in Chinese History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

Lyman Van Slyke, Yangtze: Nature, Culture, and the River (Reading: Addison-Wesley, 1988).

Chris Courtney, The Nature of Disaster in China: The 1931 Yangzi Flood (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Chris Courtney, The Dragon King and the 1931 Wuhan Flood: Religious Rumors and Environmental Disasters in Republican China, Twentieth-Century China 40:2 (2015), 83-104.

Chris Courtney, At War with Water: The Maoist state and the 1954 Yangzi floods, Modern Asian Studies 52:6 (2018), 1807-1836.

Dai Qing, et al. The River Dragon Has Come!: Three Gorges Dam and the Fate of China’s Yangtze River and Its People (London: Routledge, 1998).


Micah S. Muscolino, Overfishing fuels Chinas maritime disputes (Links to an external site.)

Sakura Christmas, An imperial sheep chase (Links to an external site.)

Suggested readings:

Sakura Christmas, Japanese Imperialism and Environmental Disease on a Soy Frontier, 18901940, Journal of Asian Studies 78:4 (2019): 809-836

Micah S. Muscolino, Fishing Wars and Environmental Change in Late Imperial and Modern China (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center and Harvard University Press, 2009).

Micah Muscolino, Fisheries Build Up the Nation: Maritime Environmental Encounters between Japan and China, in Ian Jared Miller, Julia Adeney Thomas, and Brett L. Walker, ed. Japan at Natures Edge: The Environmental Context of a Global Power (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2013), 56-70.

Micah Muscolino, The Yellow Croaker War: Fishery Disputes between China and Japan, Environmental History 13:2 (2008), 306-324.

Norman Smith, Hibernate No More: Winter, Health and the Great Outdoors, in Norman Smith, ed. Empire and Environment in the Making of Manchuria (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2017), 130-151.


Peter Lavelle, The historical roots of Chinas industrial revolution (Links to an external site.)

Victor Seow, Carbons footprint in Chinese modernity (Links to an external site.)

Judd C. Kinzley, How oil has shaped Xinjiang (Links to an external site.)

Watch the film Behemoth (2016). to an external site.

Suggested readings:
Judd C. Kinzley, Natural Resources and the New Frontier: Constructing Modern China’s Borderlands (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018), Part 2.

Shellen Wu, Empires of Coal: Fueling Chinas Entry into the Modern World Order (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015).

Micah S. Muscolino, “Energy and Enterprise in Liu Hongsheng’s Cement and Coal-Briquette Businesses, 19201937,” Twentieth-Century China 41:2 (2016), 159-179.

Victor Seow, Sites of Extraction: Perspectives from a Japanese Coal Mine in Northeast China. Environmental History 24:3 (2019): 504-513.


Mary A. Brazelton, Preventing epidemics in 20th-century China, (Links to an external site.)

Sujit Sivasundaram, The Human, The Animal and the Prehistory of COVID-19, Past & Present 249:1 (2020): 295-316

Suggested readings:
Carol Benedict, Bubonic Plague in Nineteenth-Century China, Modern China 14:2 (1988), 107-155.
Mary A. Brazelton, Danger in the Air: Tuberculosis Control and BCG Vaccination in the Republic of China, 19301949, Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review 8:1 (2019), 139-164.

Ruth Rogaski, Vampires in Plagueland: The Multiple Meanings of Weisheng in Manchuria, in Angela Ki Che Leung and Charlotte Furth, ed. Health and Hygiene in Chinese East Asia: Policies and Publics in the Long Twentieth Century (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), 132-159.

Shuk-Wah Poon, Cholera, Public Health, and the Politics of Water in Republican Guangzhou, Modern Asian Studies 47:2 (2013), 436-466.

Kerrie L. MacPherson, Cholera in China, 1820-1930: An Aspect of the Internationalization of Infectious Disease, in Mark Elvin and Tsui-jung Liu, ed. Sediments of Time: Environment and Society in Chinese History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

Zhang Yixia and Mark Elvin, Environment and Tuberculosis in Modern China, in Mark Elvin and Tsui-jung Liu, ed. Sediments of Time: Environment and Society in Chinese History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

Iza Ding, Can China Lead the Fight on Climate Change, The Diplomat, December 1, 2019. (Links to an external site.)

Watch the film Under the Dome (2015).
Under the Dome (English subtitle,Complete) by Chai Jing: Air pollution in China (Links to an external site.)
Under the Dome (English subtitle,Complete) by Chai Jing: Air pollution in China
Suggested readings:
Daniel K. Gardner, Environmental Pollution in China: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).

Judith Shapiro, Chinas Environmental Challenges (New York: Polity, 2nd edition, 2016).
Sam Geall, China and the Environment: The Green Revolution (London: Zed Books, 2013).
Yifei Li and Judith Shapiro, China Goes Green: Coercive Environmentalism for a Troubled Planet (New York: Polity, 2020).