History | Traditional Chinese Society
J400 | 2776 | Struve


A portion of the above section reserved for majors
Above section COAS intensive writing section and also requires
registration in COAS W333
Above section meets with EALC E350

TOPIC:  TRADITIONAL CHINESE SOCIETY THROUGH LITERATURE

Students in this course enter intimately into the eighteenth-century
Chinese world by reading most chapters of the greatest novel ever
written in China, the quasi-autobiographical Story of the Stone (also
known as Dream of Red Chambers) by Cao Xueqin.  This incomparable
work of literature presents in fascinating material and psychological
detail the life of a young aristocrat as he comes of age in a large
household of mostly female relatives.  Numerous aspects of high and
low eighteenth-century Chinese society, culture, politics, education,
economics, values, and beliefs—especially regarding women—come
vividly to light under the author’s reminiscent pen.  Students read
carefully three of the five volumes of the Hawkes-Minford
translation; summaries are provided of the rest.  Background on the
era is at hand in Chinese Society in the Eighteenth Century by Naquin
and Rawski, and numerous matters are illustrated visually with slides
and videos.  Students write three papers, in both draft and final
versions, on subjects of their own choice that appear in the novel.
Extensive bibliographical help is provided by the professor.  Grades
are based one-third on class preparation and participation and two-
thirds on the papers.