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Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia

Classical Documentary Texts

Course Code:
15PEAC006
Unit value:
1
Taught in:
Full Year
Graduates of Chinese studies programmes embarking on postgraduate study often find that their reading ability of Classical Chinese and research skills are not yet at the level where they can handle a variety of primary sources with relative ease and confidence. This text-based course provides the training necessary to bridge this gap.
The objectives of this course are the introduction to and study of representative genres in the classical corpus. Understanding of the content and research value of documents is to be stressed rather than their merit as literature. Research tools, bibliographical entries of books, biographies, diaries, gazetteers, legal texts, anecdotal writings, collected works of scholar-officials, critical writings and other texts will be covered, and students will be expected to prepare annotated translations for class discussion, as well as term essays on a chosen topic. To some extent, subject areas that students are interested in will also be catered to.

Prerequisites

A competence in Classical Chinese equivalent to at least the level reached by the end of the SOAS 3rd year BA Chinese course is required for entrance to the course. Language assessments can be carried out prior to enrollment whenever necessary.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

The aim is to supply essential tools for research in pre-twentieth century Classical Chinese writings, as well as a systematic survey of the wealth of Classical Chinese documentary sources. By the end of the course, students will have sharpened their research skills, for example by drawing more easily on a wider range of both printed and web-based materials. They can hope to have acquired a good knowledge of Classical Chinese through careful translation and close textual analysis, a broad vocabulary that extends across a range of subjects, an awareness of the wealth of material that has research potential, and a strong foundation to begin postgraduate research.

Workload

2 hours per week of lectures and seminar-based discussion.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written examination taken in May/June (50%), one essay of 3,500 words to be submitted on day 5, week 1, term 2 (25%); one essay of 3,500 words to be submitted on day 5, week 1, term 3 (25%).

Suggested reading

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