Course Code


Course Name

Selected Themes on Chinese Literature


Thursday 4:30 pm – 7:15 pm


CYT 214


Prof. TAM King Fai

Teaching Assistant

Mavis Siu

Course Description

This course will study a body of Chinese fictional works with a focus on the depiction of crime in its many facets: the perpetrator, the victim, the investigator, the commitment of the crime, the investigation, the punishment, the social and historical settings in which the crime occurs and the material and psychological circumstances surrounding it. It will adopt a loosely chronological approach, beginning with the treatment of crime in literature in the premodern period, through various stages in the twentieth century and ending with the contemporary period. It focuses mainly on the development in the Chinese mainland but will also touch upon that in Hong Kong and the other areas of the Sinophone world.

Learning Outcomes
After completing this course, you should:

• Have gained a decent knowledge of the development of the crime genre in modern Chinese literature
• Be able to carry out an informed discussion on the characteristics of the crime genre
• Be aware of the major critical issues related to the Chinese crime genre

Course Outline

WEEK 1 (September 7): Organizational meeting; Defining the Terms

WEEK 2 (September 14): The Game of Crime
Stephen Knight, “Golden Age,” The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction, ed. Martin Priestman, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013
“Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories”

WEEK 3 (September 21): Pre-20th Century Literary Depiction of Crime: Moral and Cosmic Dimensions

WEEK 4 (September 28): The Crime Genre as Entertainment and Scientific Textbook
trans. Harold Shadick, Travels of Lao Ts’an, New York: Columbia University Press, 1990; selections
Sherlock in Shanghai: Stories of Crime and Detection by Cheng Xiaoqing, trans. Timothy Wong, Honolulu: University of Hawaii, 2007; selections
Wei Yan, “Sherlock Holmes Came to China”
Jeffrey Kinkley, “Politics,” Chinese Justice, the Fiction: Law and Literature in Modern China, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000, selections
“The Detective Fiction of Ch’eng Hsiao-ch’ing”

WEEK 5 (October 5): The Criminal, the Counter-revolutionary
“Those Who Lived in Wallpapered House”

WEEK 6 (October 12): The Spy and the Mole
The Message (風聲), Dir: Chen Kuo-fu, Qunshu Gao; 2009
“Appeal of Clandestinity”

WEEK 7 (October 19): Procedural
神探亨特張 (2012)
Primasita and Ahimsa-Putra, “An Introduction to the Police Procedural: A Subgenre of the Detective Genrem,” Hamonriora, Vol 31, no. 1 (February 2019): 33-40
John Scaggs, “The Police Procedural,” Crime Fiction, London: Routledge, pp. 85-104
何家弘. 亡者歸來. 北京:北京大學,2014, selections

*** October 26 Short Assignment Due***

WEEK 8 (October 26): Noir, Hard-boiled detective, Femme Fatale

白日焰火 (2014)
John Scaggs, “The Hard-Boiled Mode,” Crime Fiction, London: Routledge, 2005, pp. 55-85

WEEK 9 (November 2): Revenge
Chan Ho-kei, The Borrowed, trans. Jeremy Tiang New York: Black Cat, 2016, selections.
陳浩基 . 網內人. 台北:皇冠文化, 2017.

WEEK 10 (November 9): Final Paper Consultation

WEEK 11 (November 16): The Chinese Detective in the West I
Qiu Xiaolong, When Red is Black, New York: Soho Crime, 2005
Luo Hui, “Qiu Xiaolong’s Crime Fiction in Globalized Literature”
“When Red is Black: Murder and the Hidden Truth of the Cultural Revolution”

WEEK 12 (November 23): The Chinese Detective in the West II
Robert Van Gulik, The Chinese Maze Murder, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2012
“van Gulik Woman Example”

WEEK 13 (November 30): Summation

*** December 7 Final paper due ***

Assessment & Assignments

Attendance and participation account for 10 % of the final grade of this course. Students will be judged by their thoughtful contribution to class discussion. Students are required to give presentations of 20-30 minutes on topics related to the readings. There will be one short written assignment of about 1200 words on a given topic. At the end of the semester, students have to submit a final paper (3000 – 3500 words) on an appropriate topic for which they must consult the instructor beforehand.

Participation 10%

Presentation 25%

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 With each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of the policies, regulations and procedures.