Reading Modern Chinese Literature: Short Stories (I) (1918-1950)

Reading Modern Chinese Literature: Short Stories (I)  (1918-1950)

Taught by Steve Zhang, Senior Lecturer

Thursday, 6:30-8:30pm
10 sessions (20 hours)
October 1 – December 10 (No class on 11/26)
Tuition: $500 members / $540 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.

How did Chinese fiction stimulate the imagination of the burgeoning nation? How did Chinese writers react to the radical revolution to paradigms of thoughts, cultural behavior and even the national language? How did they cope with the challenges reconciling the clashing identities of the new and the old, of East and West, and between the ideal of intellectual freedom and political commitments? How did they develop individualistic literary styles during an era reigned by terror and war? How have their contributions to literature shaped the worldviews and sensibilities of new generations of Chinese people?

Through a sampling of masterpieces by celebrated authors from Lu Xun (1881-1936) to Zhang Ailing (1920-1995), this course offers an extraordinary chance to analyze modern Chinese fiction for anyone who wishes to comprehend why and how China went through a turbulent century of violence, struggles, wars, revolutions and reforms as the birth of a new national language and mass culture seemed to forecast lasting impacts in China.

Selected short stories include works by Lu Xun, Li Jieren (1891-1962), Yu Dafu (1896-1945), Lao She (1899-1966), Shen Congwen (1902-1988), Ba Jin (1904-2005), Qian Zhongshu (1910-1998), and Zhang Ailing. Some pieces have not yet been explored within American college classrooms. From renowned pioneers who led the redefinition of the soul of the nation through China’s new cultural movements to celebrated writers headlining the international anarchist movement, and even influencers of a new generation of readers in the 21th century, all of these literati masters have left lasting impacts on Chinese literature to this day.

Week Author Selected Essays
1 Lu Xun鲁迅 狂人日记
2 Li Jieren李劼人 编辑部的风波
3 Yu Dafu郁达夫 血泪
4 Mao Dun茅盾 小巫
5 Lao She老舍 老字号
6 Shen Congwen沈从文 大小阮
7 Shi Zhecun施蛰存 梅雨之夕
8 Ba Jin巴金 沉落
9 Qian Zhongshu钱钟书 纪念
10 Zhang Ailing张爱玲 琉璃瓦



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