East Asian Languages and Cultures | Chinese Literature II
E332 | 3900 | Zou


TOPIC:  Forms, Sentiments and History in Late Imperial and Modern
Chinese Literature

This course is the second semester in a year long sequence on the
history of Chinese literature in translation.  Students will be
introduced to major authors, works, and genres from the Yuan Dynasty
to modern times.  We will explore how literature negotiates its
position in relation to important political, ideological, social and
cultural concerns in late imperial and modern China.  The major
questions we will pursue include: how do we understand “vernacular”
writing in terms of the ways in which it engages the political and
social realities of late imperial China?  Why does a realistic
tendency coexist with a fascination with the fantastic in such
writing?  Why is qing (emotion) highlighted in Yuan, Ming, and Qing
literature, and how is it understood in relation to freedom, family
and the country (the Empire)?  How is literature redefined by
colonial politics and changing concepts of the nation, love, and the
individual in late Qing and May Fourth literature?  We will also
explore models of emotion and reality in revolutionary literature
and post-Mao writing.  Particularly, what do “revolutionary
romanticism” and “revolutionary realism” mean?  Where does “roots-
seeking” fiction search for “roots?”  Why is literature in the 1980s
fascinated with the absurd and the ugly?  Readings will include both
literary works in translation and critical writings on selected
topics in Chinese literary and cultural history.

Students will be expected to do extensive reading and actively
participate in class discussions.  There will be an analytical paper
(30%, 7-10 pages), a research project and in class presentation
(25%) and a final exam (30%).  Regular attendance, participation in
class discussions, and other small assignments will account for 15%
of the semester grade.