Reading Modern Chinese Literature: Essays (I)

Reading Modern Chinese Literature: Essays (I)

Taught by Steve Zhang, Senior Lecturer

Thursdays, 6:30-8:30pm
10 sessions (20 hours)
October7 – December 16 (No Class November 25 Thanksgiving)
Tuition: $540 members / $580 non-members
(plus a $30 non-refundable registration fee)
*This class is taught in Chinese. Advanced level of proficiency in the Chinese language is required.

While China’s long poetic tradition holds an important place in the nation’s literary cannon, it is its prose that most acutely portrays life in China’s modern era. Like novels and short stories, Chinese essays have the unique ability to capture some of the most poignant themes of this modern age: crisis and conflict, wars and revolution, the struggle for social justice and identity in modernization. Indeed, what works could better lead to a wider understanding of China among an increasingly global audience than 鲁迅Lu Xun’s “miscellaneous essays” (杂文za wen), the works of 胡适Hu Shi or 周作人Zhou Zuoren’s social and political comments, and in doing so serve as the most expressive witness of individual experience in the 20th century?

This course will introduce the most influential authors and their works from the period between 1910 and 1950, an era which began with a break from the millennium-long tradition of Chinese writing with the new use of the Chinese vernacular, an era which bore witness to the decades of China’s civil war, and which ended with the rise of China’s new regime in the Fall of 1949. Students will be introduced to a selection of texts, which they will analyze though the lenses of language, style and rhetoric, to recognize the efforts and achievement of modern Chinese essays. Authors include 鲁迅Lu Xun, 周作人Zhou Zuoren, 胡适Hu Shi, 林语堂Lin Yutang, 徐志摩Xu Zhimo, and 张爱玲Zhang Ailing will be introduced with original texts.

This is an advanced level reading class in Mandarin for students who have met the prerequisite of two years of Chinese language study or equivalent with interests in Chinese literature, comparative poetics, intellectual history, linguistics and the practice of translating world literature.

Week Author Selected Works
1 Liang Qichao 梁启超 最苦与最乐,趣味教育与教育趣味
2 Lu Xun 鲁迅 野兽训练法,聪明人和傻子和奴才
3 Hu Shi 胡适 差不多先生传
4 Xu Zhimo 徐志摩 就使打破了头,我也要保持我灵魂的自由
5 Zhou Zuoren 周作人 闭户读书论
6 Lin Yutang 林语堂 说纽约的饮食起居
7 Zhu Guangqian 朱光潜 谈十字街头
8 Feng Zhi 冯至 山村的墓碣
9 Qian Zhongshu 钱钟书 读伊索寓言
10 Zhang Ailing张爱玲 到底是上海人



Steve Zhang Professor 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, and Saint Mary’s College. 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 Stories, Reading Social Media Texts, Intermediate Conversations, Business Chinese, among others.

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