SOAS University of London

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

Contemporary Chinese Literary Texts

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/2021
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Term 2

In this module students will read in the original language a selection of contemporary Chinese literary masterpieces. Highlighted authors include Bai Xianyong, Han Shaogong, Mo Yan and Yu Hua, and major topics include displacement and nostalgia, violence and historical trauma, and literary social critique. The module supplements the literary survey course "Literature and Social Transformation in Contemporary China".  It also aims to help students improve their Chinese-language skills as well as their literary reading and analytical thinking skills.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  1. read, comprehend, and translate Chinese-language literary texts at an intermediate level of proficiency
  2. demonstrate an awarenss of the various possibilities for reading literature in relation to relevant historical contexts and a range of theoretical ideas
  3. demonstrate an ability to work individually in researching, synthesizing, and preparing for seminars and written course work
  4. strengthen students' skills in research and essay writing based on English and Chinese language primary and secondary sources


Total of 10 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week consisting of a 1 hour seminar and a 1 hour tutorial.

Scope and syllabus

The following syllabus is for guidance only and is subject to alteration at the discretion of the module convenor.

  • Week 1: Introduction: Ways of Reading
  • Week 2: Revolutionary Literature under Mao
  • Week 3:Reinventing National History in Mid-Twentieth Century
  • Week 4: Nativist Literature in Taiwan
  • Week 5: Rediscovering Humanism in Post-"Cultural Revolution" Literature
  • Week 6: Reading Week
  • Week 7: Root-Seeking Literature
  • Week 8: New Historical Fiction
  • Week 9: Avant-Garde Fiction
  • Week 10:  Marketing Chinese Women Writers in the 1990s
  • Week 11: Youth Writers and the Internet

Method of assessment

A reaction paper of 750 words to be submitted on day 1, week 7 in the term of teaching (20%); an essay of 2,500 words to be submitted on day 1, week 1, in the term following teaching (80%).

Suggested reading

Core reading:

  • Dang dai zhongguo xin wen xue da xi 当代中国新文学大系
  • David Der-wei Wang, A New Literary History of Modern China (Harvard University Press, 2017).

Additional Reading:

  • Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature, Yale University Press, 2013
  • Wang Zhenhe王祯和, Wang Zhenhe xiao shuo xuan王祯和小说选
  • Bai Xianyong 白先勇,Bai Xianyong xiao shuo xuan白先勇小说选


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules