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History ee research question help - reforms in 1890s China

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I want to do my essay on the reform movement happened in the 1890s China, particularly after the Sino-Japanese war, with Kang YouWei and other reform minded people

I want to write about how those reformists' actions were enlightening the society, and how they were beneficial, and had greater effects on the society (such as Kang's idea of constitutional democracy, public schools, his book that denied old Confucian learning of three bonds)

The research question I came up with is:

To what extend can the reformations in 1890s China be considered an enlightenment era?

I have A LOT of troubles to word it right...

first off, i kinda want to include events and reformists other than the hundred days reform movement of Kang, but he would be a major part of it, if not all.. but im not sure as my research was really poorly done,

thats why i did not want to say "to what extend can the Hundred days movement be called..." as im afraid that i might not have enough material to write about

Anyone have suggestions about that? should i keep it broad like i have it in red? Or if this looks too broad, the examiner will penalize me for not taking into consideration of ALL the things that might've happened if my major focus is on Kang YouWei but put the whole decade on my question?

and the last part, after enlightenment, i donno if i should call it a movement, an era, time? .. like how should i describe it? an enlightenment outburst? ( :dontgetit: )

Thank you so much for people who can help me! I appreciate it a lot! I am really terrible at wording stuff...

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I also did my EE in History (but on the French Revolution). At this stage, you don't need to be too worried about your research question. Rather, it is much better to get an idea of what you want to write about and to start researching than trying to fit your research to your question. The EE is not a process that happens overnight- or even in a month. My EE took me 12 months from start to finish! It takes a lot of work researching, writing and then continuing to refine. If I were you, start to really research and get a feel of what happened during the time period, and how, for example, the Taiping Rebellion changed the need for reform, and why the Hundred Days of Reform failed. Why were there rebellions in China? What was the role of Cixi? Was the period after the Taiping a second flourishing of the Qing- or rather a brief respite in overall decline? Was it inevitable that the Qing would be overthrown? Throughout the process, you have to keep asking yourself little questions that relate to the question- believe me, there are so many!

Most of the historiography surrounding China in the 1890s focuses on its failure to modernise, and the Boxer Rebellion during the early 1900s was really an expression of this. It's really up to you, but I would first start researching academic texts like Hsu, Spence, Fairbank and Ryan (at least) to get an idea of what happened during this period and why. Getting access to an academic database like Questia is perfect- there are so many articles on every area of history. I had over 100 footnotes in my EE with a very long bibliography. You really need to be able to call upon historians, biographers and various statistics. Not only that, but you also need to be able to say why a certain historian's opinion is more valuable than another- perhaps their cultural background? (but never say bias- ever). Although it may seem intimidating, research should take you hours and hours. I spent two straight weeks of my holidays (with probably 6-7 hours a day) just doing research before I even thought about writing or planning. You really needed to know the time period excellently to be able to write a quality EE. In fairness, that's a lot of research, but I wanted to make sure that I really, really knew my topic. Different people work differently- for example, my friend started writing and researching simultaneously, but personally, it worked much better for me getting all my research done and then writing, and doing the occasional research in between to find that necessary extra quote or statistic.

So, right now, research, research, research. Once you are ready to start writing, think about what you have learnt and then try to reformulate your question to fit what you have researched. You will find it very difficult to write an essay based on a static question- it needs to be fluid and changeable. Be prepared to change your question- a lot. That's okay! It's likely that your final question will be quite different to your very first question- I know that mine was!

But, if you have already started researching, then I recommend going to see you supervisor/emailing your supervisor. They will be able to help you more than any other student (probably), as they will know how the essay needs to be structured, and, perhaps, what you should be writing about!

Let me know if you need me to clarify anything else, and good luck!

Edited by iblyf

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