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Educating China: Knowledge, Society and Textbooks in a Modernizing World, 1902-1937

Peter G. Zarrow

978 1 107 11547 7
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Publication date:
23 September 2015

Short description: 

Major study of how Chinese school textbooks shaped social, cultural, and political trends in the late imperial and Republican period.

Full description: 

In this major study, Peter Zarrow examines how textbooks published for the Chinese school system played a major role in shaping new social, cultural, and political trends, the ways in which schools conveyed traditional and 'new style' knowledge and how they sought to socialize students in a rapidly changing society in the first decades of the twentieth century. Focusing on language, morality and civics, history, and geography, Zarrow shows that textbooks were quick to reflect the changing views of Chinese elites during this period. Officials and educators wanted children to understand the physical and human worlds, including the evolution of society, the institutions of the economy, and the foundations of the nation-state. Through textbooks, Chinese elites sought ways to link these abstractions to the concrete lives of children, conveying a variety of interpretations of enlightenment, citizenship, and nationalism that would shape a generation as modern citizens of a new China.

Table of contents: 

Introduction; 1. The construction of the state school system; 2. Reading modern China; 3. Textbook morality, self-cultivation, and civics; 4. Good citizens; 5. The national subject in time; 6. A usable past; 7. The importance of space; Conclusion; Glossary; Bibliography; Index.


Peter Zarrow is a professor in the Department of History, University of Connecticut, where he focuses on the intellectual and cultural history of modern China, and an adjunct research fellow at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica. His 2012 work, After Empire: The Conceptual Transformation of the Chinese State, 1885-1924, won the First Scholarly Monograph Award in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Academia Sinica. He has been a visiting scholar at the British Academy, L'Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales, and the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), and served as Hu Shi Memorial Chair Professor (Academia Sinica) in 2013.




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