Course Code


Course Name

Chinese Literature in Translation


WED 2:30pm-5:15pm


CYT 202


Dr. Audrey Heijns

Teaching Assistant

Xiao Shuang

Course Description

This course introduces the classical Chinese literary tradition in translation. In this course, we will explore genres including fiction, poetry, essays, and biographies in relation to three major sets of themes and traditions: 1) the fantastic, the immortal, and the ghostly; 2) the moral, the loyal, and the outlaws; and 3) the romantic, the scholar, and the beauty. These themes and traditions are, however, intertwined in the history of Chinese literature, influencing the consumption pattern of readers of popular literature. Through these themes and traditions, we analyze key issues regarding the formation of literary canon in China and how Han Chinese literati define the relationship between the foreign and the domestic, the Han and the non-Han, male and female, lawful subjects and outlaws in the process of literary canonization. The texts we read for this course will demonstrate Chinese culture as a dynamic, diverse, and hybrid one jointly shaped by domestic traditions and foreign influences. All readings are available in English translations. No prior knowledge of Chinese is assumed.

Course Outline

Week 1 Jan 10           Course Overview: Chinese Literature in Translation


I. The Moral, the Loyal, and the Outlaws

Week 2 Jan 17           The Noble Person and the Knight-errant


Week 3 Jan 24           Feminine Virtues and Martial Arts Feminism

Group Presentation 1


Week 4 Jan 31           The Righteous Outlaw and Folk Culture

Group Presentation 2


II. The Fantastic, the Exotic, and the Ghostly

Week 5 Feb 7 Fantasy and Realism

Group Presentation 3


Week 6 Lunar New Year, No Class on Feb 14


Week 7 Feb 21           Life as a Dream: The Daoist Tradition and the Transformation of Things 

Group Presentation 4


Week 8 Feb 28           Peach Blossom Spring and the Utopian Narrative

Group Presentation 5


Week 9 Reading Week


Week 10 Mar 13        Ghosts, Monsters, and Supernatural Power

Group Presentation 6


Week 11 Mar 20        A Thousand Faces of the Monkey King

Group Presentation 7 


III. The Romantic, the Scholar, and the Beauty

Week 12 Mar 27        Femme Fatale and Eternal Love

Group Presentation 8


Week 13 Apr 3          The Return of the Ghost and Kun Opera

Group Presentation 9


Term Paper Proposal due by April 6


Week 14 Apr 10        The Cult of Qing and the Writing of the Family History

Group Presentation 10


Week 15 Apr 17        Marriage, Concubinage, and the Gendered Space

Group Presentation 11


Term Paper due by April 20


Assessment & Assignments

  • Attendance and Participation (15%)
  • Discussion Posts (10%)
  • Pop Quizzes/In-class writing (15%)
  • Group Presentation (15%)
  • Term Paper Proposal (5%)
  • Term Paper (40%)

Honesty in Academic Work

Students should submit the papers to the Veriguide system and print out the Veriguide receipt and scan it into a PDF file before submitting to Blackboard. See the website: Any cases of plagiarism will be severely penalized and reported to the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, which could result in failure or expulsion from the University.