Fall 2020 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
Course Description: Classical Chinese Fiction
This course provides an opportunity to read masterpieces of classical Chinese fiction, which are distinctly different from both Western and modern Chinese fiction in subject matter, theme, style, and writing technique. We will read a collection of stories and a novel with themes ranging from war, martial art, heroism, love, friendship, and the supernatural to ghosts, demons, knight-errant, thieves, detectives, and judges. While reading these fictional works, we have multiple aims in mind: 1) to gain knowledge about the structure and operations of traditional Chinese society; 2) to understand how traditional ways of life are related to modern Chinese culture; and 3) to appreciate Chinese narrative art in relation to Western fiction. Our principal objective, however, focuses on what makes a good fictional work, how to read it critically and thoughtfully, and how to develop analytical, communicative, and writing skills. Since students have already read numerous Western stories, they are encouraged to adopt a comparative approach and bring their knowledge of Western culture and literature to bear on the course. All readings are in English translation. No prior knowledge of Chinese language and culture is required.
1) Y.W. Ma and Joseph S.M. Lau, eds., Traditional Chinese Stories: Themes and Variations..
2) Cao Xueqin, The Story of the Stone, vol 1, translated by David Hawkes (Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books).
3) Some electronic handouts.
4) A film to be watched in class
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
1) Two in-class presentations 10%
2) 1 midterm Examination 30%
3) 1 final examination 40%
5) 2 one-page reports on Chinese cultural events 10%
6) Attendance and Participation in discussion 10%