Course Code


Course Name

Chinese Literature in Translation


TUE 2:30pm-4:15pm


Prof. Yunwen Gao

Teaching Assistant

Hu Yijun

Miao Zixin

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: Myth and Mythology of Traditional Chinese Culture

I. The Moral, the Loyal, and the Outlaws

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

Week 3 Lunar New Year, No Class

Week 4 Jan 31           Feminine Virtues and the Martial Arts Feminism

Week 5 Feb 7             The Righteous Outlaw and the Folk Culture

Week 6 Feb 14           Synthesizing Filial Piety in the Buddhist Tradition

II. The Fantastic, the Exotic, and the Ghostly 

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

Week 8 Feb 28           The Peach Blossom Spring and the Utopian Narrative

Week 9 Reading Week

Week 10 Mar 14        The Ghosts, the Monsters, and the Supernatural Power

Week 11 Mar 21        A Thousand Faces of the Monkey King

III. The Romantic, the Scholar, and the Beauty

Week 12 Mar 28        Femme Fatale and Eternal Love

Week 13 Apr 4          The Return of the Ghost and the Kun Opera

Week 14 Apr 11        The Cult of Qing and the Writing of the Family History

Week 15 Apr 18        Marriage, Concubinage, and the Gendered Space


Assessment & Assignments

  • Attendance and Participation (15%) 
  • Two (2) Discussion Posts (10% each – 20% total) 
  • Pop Quizzes (4% each – 20% total) 
  • Group Presentation (15%) 
  • Term Paper Proposal (5%) 
  • Term Paper (25%)

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 the 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.