Leah Zuo

Assistant Professor of History and Asian Studies

Teaching this semester

ASNS 2005/HIST 2781. Science, Technology, and Society in China

Seminar. Examines Chinese science, technology, and medicine in the cultural, intellectual, and social circumstances. The first part surveys a selection of main fields of study in traditional Chinese science and technology, nodal points of invention and discovery, and important conceptual themes. The second part tackles the clash between traditional Chinese natural studies and modern science from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries. Prominent themes include astronomy and court politics, printing technology and books, and the dissemination of Western natural science, among others. Reading materials reflect an interdisciplinary approach and include secondary literature on cultural, intellectual history, ethnography, and the sociology of scientific knowledge. Note: This course is part of the following field(s) of study: Non Euro/US. It also meets the pre-modern requirement.

ASNS 2012/HIST 2322. China’s Path to Modernity: 1800 to Present

Introduction to modern and contemporary Chinese history. Covers the period from the nineteenth century, when imperial China encountered the greatest national crisis in its contact with the industrial West, to the present People's Republic of China. Provides historical depth to an understanding of the multiple meanings of Chinese modernity. Major topics include: democratic and socialist revolutions; assimilation of Western knowledge and thought; war; imperialism; the origin, development, and unraveling of the Communist rule.

Teaching next semester

ASNS 2002/HIST 2780. The Foundations of Chinese Thought

Seminar. Addresses Chinese thought from the time of Confucius, ca. sixth century B.C.E., up to the beginning of the Common Era. The first half of the time period nurtured many renowned thinkers who devoted themselves to the task of defining and disseminating ideas. The latter half witnessed the canonization of a number of significant traditions, including Confucianism. Major problems that preoccupied the thinkers include order and chaos, human nature, the relationship between man and nature, among others. Students instructed to treat philosophical ideas as historically conditioned constructs and to interrogate them in contexts. Note: This course fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors.

ASNS 2011/HIST 2321. Late Imperial China

Introduction to late imperial China (800 to 1800) as the historical background to the modern age. Begins with the conditions shortly before the Golden Age (Tang Dynasty) collapses, and ends with the heyday of the last imperial dynasty (Qing Dynasty). Major topics include the burgeoning of modernity in economic and political patterns, the relation between state and society, the voice and presence of new social elites, ethnic identities, and the cultural, economic, and political encounters between China and the West. Note: This course fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors.

 I am a cultural and intellectual historian of pre-modern China. For more information, please visit my personal website, www.zuoya.org.


  • M.A., Ph.D., Princeton University; Princeton, NJ
  • B.A., Peking University; Beijing, China