SOAS University of London

China & Inner Asia Section, Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures

Ch 404: Styles of Modern Chinese Literary Language

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2019/2020
Year of study:
Year 4
Taught in:
Full Year


Year 3 language level or equivalent.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end the module, a student should be able to:

  • read and comprehend original Modern Chinese literary texts by summarising or answering questions either in English or Chinese.
  • identify varied literary language phenomena in narratives and utterances of the literary texts
  • recognise the distinctive language style of authors
  • analyse the author’s method of expression to create and to produce artistic effect
  • read aloud the literary texts with appropriate tones and mood based on the literary contents
  • produce short pieces of writings by using certain language expressions


Total of 22 weeks teaching consisting of 3 hours of lectures.

Scope and syllabus

The module offers students opportunities to study how language is used in Chinese literary writing by Chinese writers. It is designed to develop students’ knowledge of Modern Chinese literary language through reading selected literary texts of particular Chinese authors. It is also designed to develop students’ ability of literary language analysis.

The module is designed to cover selected modern Chinese literary texts of well-known Chinese writers, Chinese literary language style and rhetoric. The study content will be divided into ten sections in the two teaching terms. One hour theory study in each week is a primary lecture in which the theory of Chinese stylistics and Chinese rhetoric will be delivered. The following two-hour practical reading and analysis will bring the knowledge and theory into practice.

Method of assessment

One written examination in May/ June (60%); one unseen literary text of about 1000 words in length in each of the first two teaching terms to carry out the following tasks: writing a summary after reading and answering specific questions on its literary style and modern Chinese rhetoric (15% + 15%) and one piece of creative writing in Chinese of at least 600 characters in length (10%)

Suggested reading

Essential Readings:
  • Hu Yushu 胡裕树(ed.): Xiandai Hanyu 现代汉语(Modern Chinese). Shanghai: Shanghai Jiaoyu Chubanshe, (1995) 2001
Additional Readings:
  • Bradford, Richard: Stylistics. London: Routledge, 1997
  • Edward, Gunn: Rewriting Chinese – Style and Innovation in Twentieth-Century Chinese
  • Prose. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1991
  • Freeman, Donald C. (ed.): Linguistics and Literary Style. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1970
  • Haynes, John: Introducing Stylistics. London: Unwin Hyman, 1989
  • Hockx, Michel: The Question of Style – Literary Societies and Literary Journals in Modern China, 1911–1937. Leiden: Brill, 2003
  • Turner, G.W.: Stylistics. Middlesex: Penguin Books Ltd.
  • Wu Jicai 吴积才 & Cheng Jiashu 程家枢(ed.): Xiandai Hanyu 现代汉语. Yunnan: Renmin Chubanshe, 1981
  • Hsia, C.T.: A History of Modern Chinese Fiction. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961
  • Yan Cui 崔燕: Style and Development of Lao She’s Literary Language 老舍的文学语言风格及发展. Shanghai: Fudan University Press, 2015
  • Zhongguo Xiuci Xuehui 中国修辞学会 (ed.): Xiucixue Lunwenji 修辞学论文集. Fuzhou: Fujian Renmin Chubanshe, 1983

All of the books above can be found in SOAS library.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules