Course Code


Course Name

Unofficial China


Mondays 1:30-3:15pm


Dr. Lynn Sun

Teaching Assistant

Liu Songyu

Yang Pu

Course Description

What is it like to live as a child, a gay, a migrant, a non-Han, a disabled, or an online celebrity in today’s China? How do we decode the Chinese society and culture beyond cannons and official records? This English-taught course moves beyond state ideologies and official accounts by exploring the multiplicity of Chinese livelihoods and their underlying sociocultural meanings and implications. It adopts an interdisciplinary approach to offer a survey of Chinese cultures and societies as expressed and experienced at the grassroots level. Students will be guided to engage with both textual and non-textual materials produced by Chinese individuals and groups to appreciate the multiplicity of social lives and form critical understanding of Chinese social norms, cultural patterns and their deviations. This Faculty Package course serves as an introduction to Chinese Studies.

Course Outline

Sept. 5 Course Introduction

Sept. 12 No Class (Public Holiday)

Sept. 19 Making Official: Ethnic Classification in PRC

Sept. 26 Making “Strangers”

Oct. 3 Missing Voices: Memory and Politics

Oct. 10 Desire and Disability

Oct. 17 Migrant Labor and Love

Oct. 24 “Disappeared” Daughters

Oct. 31 Presentation Day

Nov. 7 Courtship on Screen

Nov. 14 The Internet, Censorship and Resistance

Nov. 21 Civil Engagement and Its Limit

Nov. 28 Student Group Screening and Presentation


Assessment & Assignments

1. Class Attendance & Participation (15%)
Regular, on-time class attendance in person is required. Students are expected to come to class prepared, having completed the required readings and watched the assigned audio-visual
materials. Students are expected to critically engage with the course content and contribute to class and tutorial discussion. Students with more than 3 unexcused absences will receive NO points for participation. Extreme lateness will be counted as an absence.

2. Pop Quizzes (5% each – 20% total) Each of the four (4) quizzes will consist of two (2)
multiple-choice questions.

3. Individual Presentation (25%)
You are responsible to find a relevant source related to contemporary China that can be understood or investigated through the specific concepts, theories or problems discussed in this
class. Sources could be a newspaper article, YouTube clip, blogpost, movie, advertisement, song, etc. The source you choose can be in English or Chinese. With proper visual and/or audio aids
(eg. PowerPoint slides, self-made video clips, etc.), deliver a four-to-five-minute presentation telling your audience 1) what the issue is 2) why it catches your attention and why you think
it’s worth discussing (its significance) and 3) what analytical questions or problems it raises and/or how it can be explained/analyzed by the relevant course materials. This assignment can be the foundation for your group final project. Presentations will be held on WEEK 9. Submit a soft copy of the material you will use during the presentation (eg. PowerPoint slides, video clips you, etc., including the sources you used) on that day via Blackboard before the class starts. Detailed arrangements will be announced later in class.

4. Final Project (40%)
You are required to form a group of 3-5 people and make a three-minute video to demonstrate your understanding of class materials. You should pick one particular issue or concept from
this course (required readings, documentaries and lectures) to frame the video. Detailed guidelines will be posted on Blackboard later.

Honesty in Academic Work

Students should submit written assignments 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.