• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Non Language Asian Studies
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Fengyuan Ji
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2018
    See Future Offerings

This course deals with key aspects of culture, media and discourse in China since 1949. It does not assume prior knowledge of China or the Chinese language.  The course has two interrelated parts.  In the first part, it examines the most colossal attempt at 'mind control' in human history – the attempt by the Communist Party between 1949 and 1978 to create new, revolutionary human beings by imposing centralised control of language and discourse.  What were the origins of this attempt?  How did it affect people's behaviour? How did it affect Chinese culture?  And how successful was it in changing people’s ideas and values?  In the second part of the course it will explore the enormous changes that have occurred since the beginning of the Reform Era in 1978.  Why did Deng and his successors relax controls over language and discourse?  What social and economic changes have encouraged the emergence of new discourses and cultural forms?  What opportunities have been created by the explosive growth of the internet?  How does the government continue to regulate the media and manipulate public debate?  How have people sought to get around the restrictions?  What critical discourses still manage to flourish?  And why, when so many things have changed in China, does the Chinese Communist Party still use the traditional language of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought? The answers to questions like these offer many insights into continuity and change in China since 1949.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of the course, students should have the skills and knowledge to: 

  1. Explain what has changed and what has remained the same in the expressive and coercive roles of discourse in China since 1949, demonstrating a superior understanding of why some things have changed and other things have remained the same.
  2. Understand the purpose and function of Chinese official discourse, have an enhanced ability to decode it, and be able to use it correctly. 
  3. Use relevant concepts to analyse examples of Chinese discourse, linking them in a superior fashion to their political, economic and social contexts.
  4. Locate and use critically examples of official discourse published in English by official sources in China. (Students with sufficient understanding of Chinese will also be able to locate and use Chinese language sources, both official and unofficial).
  5. Use this primary sources material (published in English in China) to construct an argument that contributes to a wider understanding of China.

Other Information

This is a co-taught course. Any cap on enrolments in one course applies to both courses combined.

Indicative Assessment

Tutorial contribution 10%.  This includes two parts: 

  1. Submitting five reading summaries as evidence of having read the assigned reading materials 5%
  2. Active participation in tutorial discussions 5%.

2. Oral presentation 20%

    The oral presentation is based on the readings assigned for the course. It will be conducted at tutorials.

    The duration for each oral presentation is 15 minutes, followed by five minutes’ of questions from the audience.

3. Essay 30%

    The word limit is 2,000 words.  Essay topics will be available on Wattle.

4. Final exam 40%   

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


Three hours per week - 2 hour lecture plus 1 hour tutorial.

Requisite and Incompatibility

This course is incompatible with ASIA2014.

Prescribed Texts

There is no textbook for this course. Reading materials for tutorials will be made available on Wattle.

Assumed Knowledge

This course is taught in English.  Students enrolled in this course do not have to have knowledge of China or of the Chinese language.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $3180
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $4860
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4945 19 Feb 2018 27 Feb 2018 31 Mar 2018 25 May 2018 In Person N/A

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