Reading in Modern Chinese Literature: Essays Part II

Reading in Modern Chinese Literature: Essays Part II


Thursdays, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
January 9 – March 12
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 through 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 Lu Xun 鲁迅 《文学和出汗》,《导师》
2 Lin Yutang 林语堂 《祝土匪》,《谈理想教育》
3 Xu Zhimo 徐志摩 《翡冷翠山居闲话》
4 Ba Jin 巴金 《保护动物》,《一点感想》
5 Fei Ming 废名 《我怎样读论语》
6 Zhu Xiang 朱湘 《书》,《访人》
7 Liang Yuchun 梁遇春 《观火》,《知识贩卖所的伙计》
8 Qian Zhongshu 钱钟书 《论快乐》,《魔鬼夜访钱钟书先生》
9 Zhang Ailing 张爱玲 《道路以目》
10 Xiao Hong 萧红 《鲁迅先生记》,《永远的憧憬和追求》



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