Course Code


Course Name

Selected Themes on Chinese Literature II


Thursday 06:30PM - 09:15PM




Dr. Audrey Jane HEIJNS

Teaching Assistant

Mavis Siu

Course Description

Since the early days, the translation, dissemination and promotion of literature from and about China has resulted in the creation of diverse images of China in the West. In this course, texts dealing with China (including articles, travel writing, and literary translations) from both past and present will be discussed and critically interpreted. We will take a closer look at the purposes and methods of introducing China deployed by sinologists, translators and publishers involved in literary translation, and also explore the role of missionaries, travellers, historians, and overseas Chinese whose works contributed to the representation of China. This will give an overview of the evolution in the images of China over time. Theories such as Orientalism, imagology and cultural translation will be used to analyse the construction of national images and improve an awareness of different perspectives. Ultimately, the aim of this course is to help students read texts from and about China more critically to better understand Western perceptions of China.

Course Outline

WEEK 1 (11 Jan.) Introduction: The Construction of National Images

  • Martinez-Robles, David. 2008. “The Western Representation of Modern China: Orientalism, Culturalism and Historiographical Criticism”. Digithum (10), 7–16.

WEEK 2 (18 Jan.) Missionaries and the Religious Image of China

  • Mackerras, Colin. 1999. “Jesuit Missionaries and the Philosophers”. Western Images of China. Hong Kong; New York: Oxford University Press, 24–38.
  • Schweiger, Irmy. 2007. “China”. Imagology: the cultural construction and literary presentation of national characters: a critical survey. Edited by Manfred Beller and Joep Leerssen. Leiden: Brill, 126–131.

WEEK 3 (25 Jan.) Sinological Influence on the Image of China

  • Franke, Wolfgang. 1997. “European Sinology in the Nineteenth Century”. Canadian Review of Comparative Literature (24:4), 887–896.
  • Sieber, Patricia. 2015. “Location, Location, Location: Peter Perring Thoms (1790–1855), Cantonese Localism, and the Genesis of Literary Translation from the Chinese”. Sinologists as Translators in the Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries. Edited by Lawrence Wang-chi Wong and Bernhard Fuehrer. Hong Kong: Research Centre for Translation; Chinese University Press, 271–305.

WEEK 4 (1 Feb.) Travellers to China and Orientalism

  • Wagner, Tamara S. 2007. “Sketching China and the Self-Portrait of a Post-Romantic Traveler: John Francis’s Rewriting of China in the 1840s.” A Century of Travels in China: Critical Essays on Travel Writing from the 1840s to the 1940s. Edited by Douglas Kerr and Julia Kuehn. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 13–26.
  • Spence, D. Jonathan. 1998. “The Realist Voyages”. The Chan’s Great Continent: China in Western Minds. New York: Norton, 41–61.

WEEK 5 (8 Feb.) Women in China and Otherness in the Victorian Era

  • Fiske, Shanyn. 2009. “Asian Awakenings: Alicia Little and the Limits of Orientalism.” Victorian Literature and Culture 37(1), 11–25.
  • Kuhn, Julia. 2007. Encounters with Otherness: Female Travelers in China, 1880-1920. A Century of Travels in China: Critical Essays on Travel Writing from the 1840s to the 1940s. Edited by Douglas Kerr and Julia Kuehn. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 75–89.

WEEK 6 [15 Feb. Chinese New Year: NO CLASS]

WEEK 7 (22 Feb.) Chinese Folklore for English Readers

  • Pu, Songling. 1880. “Examination for the Post of Guardian Angel” 考城隍 and “Dr. Tseng’s Dream” 續黃梁 from Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio. Translated and annotated by Herbert A. Giles. London: Thos. de la Rue &Co.
  • Wang, Shengyu. 2021. “Chinese Folklore for the English Public: Herbert A. Giles’s 1880 Translation of Pu Songling’s Classical Tales.” Comparative Literature 73(4), 442–462.

WEEK 8 (29 Feb.) Chinese Influences on the Image of China

  • Lin, Yutang. 2010. “The Spirit of Chinese Culture” from Selected Bilingual Essays of Lin Yutang. Compiled and edited by Qian Suoqiao. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 43–54.
  • Mackerras, Colin. 1999. “The First Half of the Twentieth Century.” Western Images of China. Oxford University Press, 59–79.

WEEK 9 (7 March) Reading Week

WEEK 10 (14 Mar.) Translators of Chinese Literature

  • McDougall, Bonnie S. 2014. “World Literature, global culture and contemporary Chinese literature in translation”. International Communication of Chinese Culture. (1:1-2), 47–64.
  • *St. André, James. “Travelling Toward True Translation: The First Generation of Sino-English Translators”. The Translator (12), 189–210.

WEEK 11 (21 Mar.) Cultural Images of China

  • Lee, Tong King. 2015. “China as Dystopia: Cultural Imaginings through Translation.” Translation Studies (8:3), 251–268.
  • Yu, Hua. 2011. Excerpts from China in Ten Words. Translated by Allan Barr. New York: Pantheon Books.

WEEK 12 (28 Mar.) Global Storyteller

  • Knight, Sabine. 2014. “The Realpolitik of Mo Yan’s Fiction.” Mo Yan in Context: Nobel Laureate and Global Storyteller. Edited by Angelica Duran and Yuhan Huang. Purdue University Press, 93–105.
  • Mo Yan. 2012. Excerpts from Frog. Translated by Howard Goldblatt. Granta.

WEEK 13 (4 Apr. Ching Ming Festival)

WEEK 14 (11 Apr.) Special Focus: The Image of Hong Kong

  • Abbas, Ackbar. 1997. “Writing Hong Kong”. Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 111–140.
  • Xi Xi. 1988. “Begonia.” Renditions 29&30, 114–117.

WEEK 15 (18 Apr.) Review and Conclusion

Assessment & Assignments

Attendance and participation account for 15% of the final grade of this course. Participation includes coming to class prepared, contributing readily to the discussion and actively engaging in learning activities. Students are required to give group presentations of 20-30 minutes on topics related to the reading materials. For the mid-term assessment, they are required to write one short assignment of about 1000 words on selected topics. At the end of the semester, students select a topic and write a final paper of about 3,000 words; they should consult the teacher beforehand about their topic by showing a brief outline.

Attendance and participation 15%
Presentation and report 20%
Short written assignment 25%
Final paper 40%

Honesty in Academic Work

Attention is drawn to University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and to the disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations. Details may be found at each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of the policies, regulations and procedures.