Reading Modern Chinese Literature: Essays (II)

Reading Modern Chinese Literature: Essays (II)

Taught by Steve Zhang, Senior Lecturer

Thursday, 6:30 – 8:30 PM
January 13 – March 17
10 sessions (20 hours)
$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 a prestigious place in the nation’s literary canon, 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), 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 through the lenses of language, style and rhetoric, to recognize the efforts and achievements of modern Chinese essayists. Authors such as 鲁迅Lu Xun, 周作人Zhou Zuoren, 胡适Hu Shi, 林语堂Lin Yutang, 徐志摩Xu Zhimo, 钱钟书Qian Zhongshu 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 鲁迅 《文学和出汗》,《导师》
2 林语堂 《祝土匪》,《谈理想教育》
3 徐志摩 《翡冷翠山居闲话》
4 巴金 《保护动物》,《一点感想》
5 废名 《我怎样读论语》
6 朱湘 《书》,《访人》
7 梁遇春 《观火》,《知识贩卖所的伙计》
8 钱钟书 《论快乐》,《魔鬼夜访钱钟书先生》
9 张爱玲 《道路以目》
10 萧红 《鲁迅先生记》,《永远的憧憬和追求》



Steve Zhang Professor Zhang received graduate degrees in history and classical studies. He has extensive experiences in teaching Chinese language at all levels, Chinese 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 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