Reading in Modern Chinese Literature: Essays I

Reading in Modern Chinese Literature: Essays I


Thursdays, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
September 26 – December 5 (No Class November 28)
10 sessions (20 hours)
Tuition: $465 member / $505 non-member
(plus a $30 non-refundable registration fee)

While China’s long poetic tradition holds an important place in the nation’s literary canon, it is its prose that most astutely 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 Lu Xun’s “miscellaneous essays” (za wen), the works of Hu Shi or 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 the lenses of language, style and rhetoric, to recognize the efforts and achievement of modern Chinese essays.  Authors like Lu Xun, Zhou Zuoren, Hu Shi, Lin Yutang, and Xu Zhimo, will all 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.

Weekly Reading Schedule:
Week Author Selected Stories
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
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.

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