Department ofHistory

Kate Merkel-Hess

Kate Merkel-Hess

Director of Graduate Studies
Associate Professor of History

108G Weaver Building

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: (814) 865-0750

Curriculum Vitae:


PhD, University of California, Irvine, 2009
BA, Yale University, 1999


Kate Merkel-Hess is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of History at Penn State. She is a historian of modern China with interests in nationalism and state-building, modernity, and mass media.

Merkel-Hess is the author of Women and Their Warlords: Domesticating Militarism in Modern China (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming 2024) and The Rural Modern: Reconstructing the Self and State in Republican China (University of Chicago Press, 2016). She was also co-editor (with Kenneth Pomeranz and Jeffrey Wasserstrom) of China in 2008: A Year of Great Significance (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009).

Merkel-Hess’s articles, essays, and reviews have appeared in many publications, including The Times Literary Supplement, Journal of Social History, Twentieth-Century China, History Compass, Current History, ChinaFile, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She has received funding for her research from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Association for Asian Studies, and the U.S. Department of Education.

Recent Publications:

Women and Their Warlords: Domesticating Militarism in Modern China. University of Chicago Press, forthcoming 2024.

“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, no. 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, no. 4 (Summer 2016): 881-903.

Co-authored with Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, “The Tiananmen Protests and Their Aftermath, 1989-1999,” in The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

“Acting Out Reform: Theater and Village in the Republican Rural Reconstruction Movement.” Twentieth-Century China 37, no. 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.

“Reading the Rural Modern: Literacy and Morality in Republican China,” History Compass 7, no. 1 (2009): 44-54.

Awards and Service:

Associate Editor, Journal of Asian Studies, 2018-2020

National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2017-18

National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, 2016

Mellon/ACLS Recent Doctoral Recipients Fellowship, 2009-2010

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2008-2009

Recent Courses:

HIST 011 – World History, 1500-Present

HIST 183 – Gender, Family, and Society in East Asia

HIST 184 – The Pacific War

HIST 302W – Undergraduate Seminar

HIST 486 – Twentieth-Century China

HIST 581 – Late Imperial and Modern China

HIST 582 – Women and Gender in Modern Chinese History

HIST 583 – Rebellion, Revolution, and Nation in China

Areas of Specialization: