East Asian Languages and Cultures | Traditional Chinese Society through Literature
E352 | 1598 | Struve


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.

This class meets with HIST J300.  Credit given for only one of E352
and J300 on this topic.