Topic: Chinese Literature and Culture
Instructor: Patrick Hogan
Prerequisite: ENGL 1010, 1011, or 2011
This course may be repeated for credit with a change in topic.
The literary and cultural traditions of China are vast. Clearly, one cannot cover anything even approximating their range in a single course. In this class, we will focus on a few elements of Chinese tradition, exploring them in greater detail. Specifically, the course will begin with a careful reading of Confucius with perhaps some reference to Laotze and/or Mencius. We will then work through some Chinese lyric poems, principally following Cai Zong-qi’s How to Read Chinese Poetry. Some of this poetry extends back to the ancient beginnings of Chinese literary tradition. Following this, we will treat a collection of Yuan drama (13th-14th centuries C.E.), focusing on the relation of the works to historical concerns (e.g., Mongol domination and Chinese national identity). After this, we will consider some prose work. Depending on what is available, this may be the first volume of Cao Xueqin’s Story of the Stone (a.k.a., Dream of the Red Chamber, 18th century) or perhaps some popular story, such as the often retold tale of “the butterfly lovers,” Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai. The final section of the course will treat one or two works of recent Chinese cinema (e.g., Lu Chuan’s Nanjing! Nanjing!), considering both their thematic concerns and their formal techniques. Midterm, final, short written responses to some of the readings, class presentations.