The Study of Chinese History at UCSB

At UCSB, three China specialists, Anthony Barbieri (ancient), Ya Zuo (middle period), and Xiaowei Zheng (late imperial and modern) work together to cover the long history of China. We train students to have a comprehensive understanding of Chinese history. We emphasize the importance of a comparative framework, skills in the digital humanities, and the ability to build connections beyond one’s immediate field, drawing upon philosophy, archaeology, art history, political science, and literature. As one of the few UC campuses that have a complete coverage from classical to modern China, we are highly collaborative and are deeply committed to train our students to be creative thinkers, meticulous researchers, and well-rounded scholars who will flourish in both research and professional development skills.
We will be not be accepting applications in Chinese History for 2022 but will resume consideration for 2023.

My research interests include local history of the Qing dynasty and early republican political culture, with a focus on the emergence of popular nationalism and the potential of republicanism. I am also attracted to revolutions, and take a special interest in the historiography of comparative revolutions, constitutionalism, and democracy. My first book The Politics of Rights and the 1911 Revolution in China is a nuanced chronicle of the 1911 Revolution as it occurred in local and regional areas. I explore the ideas that motivated the revolution, the popularization of those ideas, and their animating impact on the Chinese people at large. The focus of the book is not on the success or failure of the revolution, but rather on the transformative effect that revolution has on people and what they learn from it. I am currently working on my second book project. Tentatively titled The Unfinished Mission: Constitutionalism in China, it aims at demystifying and deciphering modern Chinese political discourse on popular rights, sovereignty, and constitutionalism throughout the twentieth century.

  • Qing History
  • Republican China and People’s Republic of China
  • Comparative Revolutions
  • The Historiography of Constitutionalism and Democracy
  • Critical Theory
  • Book Manuscript: The Unfinished Mission: Constitutionalism in China.
  • Article: “Building a Republic without Revolution: Pu Dianjun and His Constitutional Endeavors, 1911-1925”
    Constitutionalism was a persistent strand of thought in twentieth-century China. Through examining the endeavors of Pu Dianjun, this paper rediscovers the little-known political and cultural activities of Chinese constitutionalists in Republican China.
  • Article: “Liberalism: Hōsei University and Chinese Overseas Students”
    Using fresh sources from Hōsei University, this paper traces the genealogy of liberalism and demonstrates the networks and anxieties of constitutionalists in late Qing China.
  • The Politics of Rights and the 1911 Revolution in China. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2018).
  • “关于中国专制论的辩论 [On the Debate of Chinese Despotism]”
    In Songshi yanjiu zhu cengmian: Sikao yu shijian. (Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe, 2020): 165-214.
  • “Constitutionalist Pu Dianjun and His New Culture Movement”
    Journal of Modern Chinese History Vol. 13 (December 2019): 226-248.
  • “The Literary Turn: An Introduction of the Special Issue on Ways of Writing the Taiping Civil War”
    Frontiers of History in China Vol. 13, No. 2 (August 2018): 167-172.
  • “China’s Political Paradox” (April 2018): SUP’s Blog Post.
  • “建构一个立宪国家:宣统元年四川咨议局中的讨论 [Configuring a Constitutional State: Discussions in the Sichuan Provincial Assembly]”
    In Zhongguo shixuehui ed., Xinhai geming yu bainian zhongguo: Jinian Xinhai geming yibai zhounian guoji xueshu yantaohui lunwenji (Beijing: Shehui kexue wenxian chubanshe, 2016): 361-373.
  • “Life and Memory of Sent-down Youth in Yunnan”
    In James Cook, Joshua Goldstein, Matthew Johnson, and Sigrid Schmalzer, eds., Visualizing Modern China: Image, History, and Memory, 1750-Present (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2014): 96-119.
  • “Configuring a Constitutional State: Officials and Assemblymen at the 1909 Sichuan Provincial Assembly Meeting”
    Twentieth-Century China Vol. 38, No. 3 (October 2013): 230-253.
  • “成都における保路運動:国家主権(国権)と民衆の権利(民権)[The Railway Movement in Chengdu: Sovereignty of the Nation and Rights of the People]”
    In Ogata Yasushi ed., The 1911 Revolution in Global History (Tokyo: Kyuko Shoin, 2013): 196-222.
  • “Die Qinghua-Universität und chinesische Politik zu Zeiten der Kulturrevolution”
    In Alfreda Murck ed., Die Goldenen Mangos des Vorsitzenden Mao und die chinesische Kulturrevolution (Zurich: Scheidegger and Spiess, 2013): 16-35.
  • “Qinghua University and Chinese Politics during the Cultural Revolution”
    In Alfreda Murck ed., Mao’s Golden Mangoes and the Chinese Cultural Revolution (Zurich: Scheidegger and Spiess, 2013): 16-35.
  • “Loyalty, Anxiety and Opportunism: Local Elite Activism during the Taiping Rebellion in Zhejiang, 1851-1864”
    Late Imperial China Vol. 30, No. 2 (December 2009): 39-83.
  • “Passion, Reflection and Survival: Political Choices of Red Guards at Qinghua University, June 1966-July 1968”
    In Joseph Esherick, Paul Pickowicz, and Andrew Walder, eds., China’s Cultural Revolution As History (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006): 29-63.
  • EACS 4B East Asian Traditions: Modern
  • EACS/HIST 80 History of China
  • CHIN/HIST 185A The Qing Empire
  • CHIN/HIST 185B Republican and the People’s Republic of China
  • CHIN/HIST 185T Chinese Thought: Modern
  • CHIN/HIST 185P Proseminar in Modern Chinese History
  • CHIN/HIST 185R Research seminar in Modern Chinese History (Topics Vary)
  • CHIN/HIST 185CQ Reading Seminar in Modern Chinese History (Topics Vary)
  • CHIN 185CR/285CR China’s Cultural Revolution
  • HIST 200AS/EACS 200AS Historical Literature on Asia: Great Books in East Asian History
  • HIST 201C Comparative Revolutions and Communism
  • HIST 201CC Modern and Late Imperial China Historiography 
  • HIST 204 Research Workshop
  • INT W20 Introduction to the Research University
  • INT W22 International Student Experience at the Research University
  • 2023 Visiting Fellow at Peking University (Institute of Humanities and Social Studies)
  • 2023 Academic Senate Research Fellowship
  • 2021 Regents Humanities Faculty Fellowship
  • 2019 Academic Senate Research Fellowship
  • 2019 IHC Research Focus Group Grant
  • 2018-2019 Visiting Scholar at Waseda University
  • 2017 Academic Senate Research Fellowship
  • 2016 Academic Senate Research Fellowship
  • 2011 Hellman Family Faculty Fund
  • 2011 Faculty Career Development Fellowship
  • 2011 IHC Research Focus Group Grant
  • 2010 Regents Junior Faculty Fellowship
  • 2009 Center for East Asian Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship at Stanford University (declined to teach at UCSB)
  • 2007 UCSD Humanities Center’s Writing Fellowship
  • 2006 Pacific Rim Dissertation Research Fellowship
  • 2005 SSRC International Dissertation Field Research Fellowship
  • 2002 Yale University Henry Fan Fellowship
  • 2000 Peking University Academic Excellence Prize

Important Links: Visualizing Modern China: Image, History, and Memory, 1750-Present
Welcome to the companion website for Visualizing Modern China. We use image-driven scholarship to further students’ understanding of critical historical issues, while simultaneously offering step-by-step guidance in the analysis of visual sources.

The Meiji at 150 Episode 119 Professor Zheng in Conversation with Professor Tierney: In this episode, Drs. Zheng and Tierney recount the political discourse of China and Japan at the turn of the 20th century, focusing on the influential translations and political writings of Nakae Chōmin.  We discuss Nakae’s political writings, his influence on Chinese reformers including Liang Qichao, understandings of “popular rights” and “popular sovereignty” in Japan and China, and their legacy for state-society relations in both countries today.