Winter Special: Reading Modern Chinese Literature II

Winter Special: Reading Modern Chinese Literature II

While China’s long poetic tradition holds an important 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.

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 the lenses of language, style and rhetoric, to recognize the efforts and achievement of modern Chinese essays.

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.

Weekly Reading Schedule:

Week Author Selected Essays
1 鲁迅 《北人与南人》《文学和出汗》《导师》
2 林语堂 《祝土匪》《谈理想教育》
3 郁达夫 《故国的秋》《故事》
巴金 《保护动物》《一点感想》
4 徐志摩 《翡冷翠山居闲话》
5 丰子恺 《新年小感》
废名 《树与柴火》《中国文章》
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 冰心 《二十一日听审的感想》《闲情》《提笔以前怎样安排你自己》
张爱玲 《道路以目》
10 萧红 《鲁迅先生记》《永远的憧憬和追求》
沈从文 《云南看云》

10 sessions (20 hours)
January 11 – March 15
$465 member / $505 non-member
(plus a $30 non-refundable registration fee)


Steve Zhang received graduate degrees in history and classical studies. He has extended experiences in teaching Chinese at all levels and as well as in curriculum design. He has published on literature, history and culture in mainland, Taiwan and the United States and served on the board of editors for translation series Approaching China. He is currently a professor of Chinese language and culture at SUNY after years of lecturing at various schools such as City University of New York, Fordham University, Saint Mary’s College and University of Minnesota. He joined China Institute in 2005.

Instructor: Steve Zhang