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Kate Merkel-Hess

Associate Professor of History

316 Weaver Building
University Park , PA 16802

Curriculum Vitae

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  1. PhD, University of California, Irvine, 2009
  2. BA, Yale University, 1999


I am a historian of modern China, with a particular interest in the Republican period from 1912 to 1949. My current research examines how China’s warlord period from 1917 to 1927, often characterized as a time of political and social disorder, laid the groundwork for the political culture of the late twentieth century. My first book, The Rural Modern: Reconstructing the Self and State in Republican China (University of Chicago Press, 2016), explores the way that the prominent strain of 1930s thought on rural modernity and “rural reconstruction” contested the dominant model of urban development. I am also the co-editor of the volume China in 2008: A Year of Great Significance (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009), a book that grew from The China Beat, a group blog I edited from 2007 to 2010. My articles and reviews have appeared in a number of publications, including Journal of Social History, The Times Literary Supplement, Twentieth-Century China, History CompassCurrent History, and The Los Angeles Review of Books.

Recent Publications:

"A New Woman and Her Warlord: Li Dequan, Feng Yuxiang, and the Politics of Intimacy in Twentieth Century China," Frontiers of History in China 11.3 (2016): 431-457.

The Rural Modern: Reconstructing the Self and State in Republican China (University of Chicago Press, 2016).

“The Public Health of Village Private Life: Reform and Resistance in Early Twentieth Century China,” Journal of Social History 49.4 (Summer 2016): 881-903.

“Acting Out Reform: Theater and Village in the Republican Rural Reconstruction Movement.” Twentieth-Century China 37.2 (May 2012): 161-180.

Co-editor with Kenneth L. Pomeranz and Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom. China in 2008: A Year of Great Significance. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009.

Awards and Service:

NEH Fellowship, 2017-18

NEH Summer Stipend, 2016

Recent Doctoral Recipients Fellowship, Mellon/ACLS (2009-2010)

Dissertation Completion Fellowship, Mellon/ACLS (2008-2009)

Recent Courses:

HIST011 - World History II
HIST184 - The Pacific War
HIST486 - Twentieth-Century China
HIST581 - Late Imperial and Modern China

Research Interests:

Modern China

Areas of Specialization:

East Asia: