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Date: Fri, 2 Oct 1998 20:28:41 +0000
Sender: H-Net list for Asian History and Culture Marilyn Levine, Lewis-Clark State College <mlevine@lcsc.edu> Subject: H-Asia: Books for Mao's thought To: H-ASIA@H-NET.MSU.EDU

Books on Mao's thought

A dialog from the H-Asia list, October 1998

Date: Fri, 2 Oct 1998 20:28:41 +0000
From: Naomi Standen <nstanden@staff.uwsuper.edu>

Once again I seek my colleagues' expert comment. I'm developing a proposal for an upper-division undergraduate course in the history of Chinese thought, and need suggestions for what book or books to set to cover Maoism.

I'd like the students to read some of Mao's own words (albeit in translation), but they will also need interpretation to start making sense of it. I plan to use Wing-tsit Chan's _Sourcebook in Chinese philosophy_ for the rest of the course, but he doesn't cover Mao.

My ideal:

My problem:

I have lists and lists of possibilities, but that's my difficulty: there's a zillion selections and collections out there, and lots of interpretations, and I'm not a modernist, so I have a hard time choosing between them. Even selecting among the various offerings by Stuart Schram would be a daunting task, without considering everything else! Is the Nick Knight collection of Chinese essays (_The philosophical thought of Mao Zedong_, Sharpe 1992) good for teaching with? Is Maurice Meisner's collection of essays (_Marxism, Maoism and utopianism_, Madison 1982) manageable for students? And so on, and so on.

So my questions:

Note that there are no prerequisites for the course, and in any case these students will have had little or no exposure to either Chinese history or Chinese thought before they take this class, and so they need something that doesn't assume *any* prior knowledge.

(By the way, to the many people who replied to my query regarding Asiapac comics - I do intend to make extensive use of them in this class!)

Thanks in advance,

Naomi Standen
Assistant Professor of Asian History
Department of History, Politics and Society
University of Wisconsin-Superior

Date: October 4, 1998
From: Joyce Madancy <madancyj@idol.union.edu>

In response to the questin on the best books for Mao's thought, etc., I have used the little red book which can be obtained for (I believe) about $8 from China Books. It is true that students cannot delve all that deeply into his philosophy, but it does a good job of introducing the class to a wide range of Mao's ideas and is valuable as the form in which most Chinese were exposed to Mao's thought. (And my students really liked the whole idea of waving them around in class and quoting from them!)

Joyce A. Madancy

Date: October 5, 1998
From: Richard Horowitz <rhorowit@zoo.uvm.edu>

In response to Naomi Standen's query about readings on Mao's thought, I don't know if there are simple answers. Stuart Schram's Cambridge history chapters were published separately as the _Thought of Mao Tse-tung_. I think this is simply too dry and too difficult for most undergraduates -- I tried it with some pretty sophisticated students a few years ago, and it just didn't work. I can't think of anything that would be better. A good encyclopedia article and some carefully chosen primary sources in a packet (or on reserve) might be the way to go.

One problem we have teaching about Mao is that few undergraduates today get to read Marx -- this wasn't true ten or fifteen years ago. I would HIGHLY recommend assigning the Communist Manifesto (readable and VERY cheap), simply to provide some of that context. Even if one wants to emphasize the continuities with earlier Chinese thought, the Marxist background is important. This makes a nice match with Mao's 1920s Report on the Peasant Movement in Hunan.

Richard S. Horowitz
Visiting Assistant Professor
University of Vermont
Department of History
Wheeler House, 442 Main Street
Burlington, VT 05405-0164

Date: Wed, 7 Oct 1998 15:56:05 -0700
From: Patricia Thornton <Patricia.Thornton@mail.trincoll.edu>

An addendum to Richard Horowitz's suggestions on the subject of undergraduates reading Marx and Mao:

I am currently teaching a Theories of Revolution course and just concluded segments on both Marx and Mao. My students read the , and then a few selected short essays from Mao, which worked reasonably well. However, when I teach my Chinese politics course next semester, I hope to have my students read both the Manifesto and some of Mao's work on line. The virtues of doing so, I believe, include reducing costs to students (the web is free!) and perhaps the more appealing visual interface, which some students may find more accessible than the traditional book format. The hyperlink I am thinking about posting on my class web page for this purpose is the Marx/Engels archive:


which includes the full-text versions of not only the Manifesto, but several other extremely important essays from Marx; there is also a link from the Marx/Engels archive to a homepage for Mao, which contains full-text versions of his report on the peasant movement in Hunan, and several other excellent pieces. The Mao page can be reached by selecting the other writers category from the Marx/Engels homepage; the direct link is:


Of course, one of the main drawbacks of relying solely on materials available on line is that students won't have the opportunity to wave their little red books in class-- although next semester I may just use both!

Best of luck, Tia Thornton

Patricia M. Thornton
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
Trinity College
300 Summit Street
Hartford, CT 06106-3100
(860) 297-4235