New Directions for Chinese Writing: Reading Contemporary Chinese Essays (1985 – 2015)

New Directions for Chinese Writing: Reading Contemporary Chinese Essays (1985 – 2015)


5 sessions (10 hours)
July 9 – August 6
Thursday, 6:30 – 8:30pm
Tuition: $250 member/$290 non-member
(plus a $30 non-refundable registration fee)
*This class is taught in Chinese. Advanced level of proficiency in the Chinese language is required.

This five-week course is designed for students interested in the most recent developments in Chinese essay writing from the last four decades. This period, between 1985 and 2015, witnessed the dramatic reshaping of relations between China and the West, as well as between the Mainland and both Taiwan and Hong Kong. It not only saw the first waves of globalization, but also dealt with the political, ideological, and cultural consequences brought by increased connectivity with the outside world. Such social changes were first reflected in essays before appearing in other forms of literature, and directly inspired a new generation of master essayists who searched to define their voices with distinguished writing styles and use of language.

This course will present and discuss selected works by Yu Kwang-chung, Mu Xin, Dong Chiao, Lung Ying-tai and Lin Yao-de. Students will explore a wide range of fascinating themes reflected in their distinctive literary strategies, such as cultural-societal identity in an ever-changing new society, anxiety in urbanization, and the dilemma of traditional values in modern and half-modern environments. This course will also explore what and how these master essayists set as new standards for the refined Chinese literary language in the new millennium.

Authors to be discussed
Yu Kwang-chung 余光中 (1928-2017)
Mu Xin 木心 (1927-2011)
Dong Chiao 董桥 (1940-)
Lung Ying-tao 龙应台 (1952-)
Lin Yao-de 林燿德 (1962-1996)



Steve Zhang received graduate degrees in history and classical studies. He has extensive experiences in teaching Chinese language at all levels, Chines literature, and curriculum design. He has published works on literature, history and culture in mainland China, Taiwan and the United States and served on the board of editors for the translation series Approaching China. He is currently a professor of Chinese language and culture at SUNY. He has also taught at various schools such as the City University of New York, Fordham University, Saint Mary’s College and University of Minnesota. He joined China Institute in 2005 and has offered a wide range of classes, including Chinese language at all levels, Reading Modern Literature: Essays, Reading Modern Literature: Short Stores, Reading Social Media Texts, Intermediate Conversations, Business Chinese, among others.

6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Instructor: Steve Zhang