Fall 2011 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Gu, Ming
Discipline and Number
LIT 3382 Section 001
TR Time 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM
Course Title
Chinese Culture: A Survey

Description of Course:

This is NOT a course on Chinese history, but a course that introduces students to Chinese culture. “Culture” is one of the most complicated words in the English language. This course adopts its two basic meanings: Matthew Arnold’s sense of "the best that has been thought and said” and Raymond Williams’s conception of “a whole way of life.” Since Chinese culture is too enormous a subject to be adequately covered in a single semester course, the two meanings of culture will serve as the guiding principle for selecting course materials and structuring the course organization. The main aim of the course is to introduce essential aspects of Chinese history, thought, religions, politics, economics, language, literature, arts, people, society, and general ways of life. The course is characterized by a heavy use of visual and audio materials on Chinese culture. In addition to reading assignments, students will view in class a sizable number of videos on aspects of high culture pertaining to literature, calligraphy, painting, architecture, sculpture, music, dance, opera, and puppet show, and aspects of ordinary culture covering daily life, religious activities, social organization, customs, costumes, cuisines, gardens, historical sites, traditional medicine, martial arts, acrobatics, handicrafts, etc. All readings and viewing materials are in English. No prior knowledge of Chinese language and culture is required.

Required Texts:

Required Reading and Viewing Materials

1. Cambridge Illustrated History of China, by Patricia Buckley Ebrey (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).
2. A score of videos on aspects of Chinese culture to be viewed in class.
3. A Course Pack containing handouts of short literary works and excerpts of Chinese thought and religion to be distributed by the instructor

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

The course will be conducted through a mixture of lectures, instructor-led discussions, and film/video viewing. Regular attendance and participation in the classroom activities are required of all students. Students are expected to read the assigned materials before coming to class, take a series of brief in-class quizzes (5-6 minutes) which cover the reading assignments, turn in a mid-term paper and have a final exam. The grading is based on the following:

1. 6 brief in-class quizzes 30%
2. One mid-term paper: 25%
3. One final exam: 30%
4. A report of a Chinese cultural event (1 page): 5%
5. Attendance and Participation: 10%
Total: 100%

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