SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia

Traditional Chinese Literature In Translation

Course Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

The course aims to provide students with the knowledge and skills to read, interpret and analyse English translations of traditional Chinese literary texts against the context of the time and culture in which they were produced, as well as against the context of their own time and culture. Selected theoretical and critical texts will be introduced to support and guide these discussions. The course will provide students with a good basic knowledge of traditional Chinese literary culture and a useful foundation for further research.


Total of 22 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week.

Scope and syllabus

The course will introduce the most important literary texts and traditions of pre-modern periods in the genres or poetry, fiction and prose. The developments of genres will be discussed and sessions will be devoted to the exploration of specific themes such as traditional literary criticism and theory.

The course will be taught in English and all compulsory readings will be in English. Students with knowledge of Classical and Literary Chinese will be encouraged also to use original language material. Classroom sessions will consist of lectures, group discussion and oral presentations.

Method of assessment

One essay of 4,000 - 5,000 words to be submitted on day 5, week 1, term 2 (40%); one essay of 6,000 - 7,000 words to be submitted on day 5, week 1, term 3 (60%)  

Suggested reading

A comprehensive reading list will be made available to students at the beginning of the course.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules