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Department of the Study of Religions

Locating China II: Missionaries and Misfits in the British Construction of China

Course Code:
15PSRH026
Status:
Course Not Running 2014/15
Unit value:
0.5
Year of study:
Any

This course deals with British (predominantly English) writing on China from the Middle Ages up to the time of the Cultural Revolution, with a particular emphasis on the role played by religious interests within that time span in constructing a notion of China amongst educated people in Britain. 

Although the notion of Orientalism will be introduced at the start of the course as one of the key ideas recently employed to structure writing about this literature, no particular interpretative scheme will be required of students in discussing the materials studied. Students will, however, acquire an understanding as to how British writing about China has changed over time, with different emphases both in different periods and amongst different groups.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

The objective of this course is to alert students to the different meanings assigned to ‘China’ and its predecessor ‘Cathay’ within the English language over the course of time. 

On completion of the course the student will have acquired a sense of the different phases in this history, from dependence on second-hand information, especially through translation, on to the appearance of first-hand accounts largely through missionary writings and then to the age of journalism and the representation of China in English-language fiction. 

The student will further acquire some familiarity with the main issues that emerge from time to time in these writings, e.g. ‘inscrutability’, etc., and with the necessary historical framework for discussing these issues.

Method of assessment

Coursework: one 5,000 word essay. Assessment: essay 100%.