SOAS University of London

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

Modern Chinese Literature (MA)

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2017/2018
Taught in:
Full Year


Level of Chinese reading ability should exceed the level of Special Course in Chinese IV.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The course aims to provide the students with an overview of Chinese literature of the modern period. The learning outcomes are: 

  • Ability to read modern Chinese literary texts in the original and translate them correctly into English
  • Advanced knowledge of the history of modern Chinese literature
  • Knowledge of the basic concepts of literary theory and their application in analysing and interpreting modern Chinese texts
  • Ability to carry out research projects in the field of modern Chinese literature, using primary and secondary materials available in the library
  • Ability to produce both oral and written research reports at the MA level


A total of 20 weeks teaching with 4 hours classroom contact per week.  Two weeks revision with a total of 3 hours contact per week.

Scope and syllabus

The course deals with texts in all genres of modern Chinese literature written during the 20th and/or 21st century.  Texts will be read as much as possible in Chinese, though some longer texts may be read in English translation instead. Attention will be paid to the literatures of Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Chinese diaspora.

Method of assessment

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

Suggested reading

Essential texts:

  • Culler, Jonathan. Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford Paperbacks, 1997. ISBN: 019285318X 
  • Lau, Joseph S.M. and Howard Goldblatt, eds. The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Literature. New York: Columbia University Press; 1995. 
  • McDougall, Bonnie S.; Louie, Kam. The Literature of China in the Twentieth Century. London: Hurst, 1997. 

Supplementary texts: 

  • A Selective Guide to Modern Chinese Literature. Leiden: E.J. Brill; 1989. (4 vols.) 
  • Anderson, Marston. The Limits of Realism: Chinese Fiction in the Revolutionary Period. Berkeley: University of California Press; 1990. 
  • Denton, Kirk (ed.). Modern Chinese Literary Thought: Writings on Literature, 1893-1945. Stanford: Stanford University Press; 1995. 
  • Dooling, Amy D.; Torgeson, Kristina M.. Writing women in modern China: An Anthology of Women’s Literature from the Early Twentieth Century. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998. 
  • Gimpel, Denise. Lost Voices of Modernity: A Chinese Popular Fiction Magazine in Context. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2001. 
  • Goldman, Merle (ed.). Modern Chinese Literature in the May Fourth Era. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press; 1977. 
  • Hockx, Michel (ed.). The Literary Field of Twentieth-Century China. Richmond: Curzon Press, 1999.
  • Hockx, Michel. Questions of Style: Literary Societies and Literary Journals in Modern China, 1911-1937. Leiden: Brill, 2003. 
  • Hsia, C.T.. A History of Modern Chinese Fiction. New Haven: Yale University Press; 1961. 
  • Hsu, Kai-yu. Twentieth Century Chinese Poetry: An Anthology. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc.; 1963 
  • Huters, Theodore, ed. Reading the Modern Chinese Short Story. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe; 1990.
  • Larson, Wendy. Women and Writing in Modern China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998. 
  • Lee, Leo Ou-fan. Shanghai Modern: The Flowering of a New Urban Culture in China, 1930-1945. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press; 1999. 
  • Lee, Leo Ou-fan. Voices from the Iron House: A Study of Lu Xun. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press; 1987. 
  • Link, Perry. The Uses of Literature: Life in the Socialist Chinese Literary System. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000. 
  • Liu, Lydia H.. Translingual Practice: Language, National Culture, and Translated Modernity. China 1900-1937. Stanford: Stanford University Press; 1995. 
  • Lu, Tonglin. Misogyny, Cultural Nihilism and Oppositional Politics: Contemporary Chinese Experimental Fiction. Stanford: Stanford University Press; 1995. 
  • Modern Chinese Literature 9:2 (Fall 1996). Special issue on modern Chinese poetry. 
  • Mostow, Joshua (ed.). The Columbia Companion to Modern East Asian Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003. 
  • Shih, Shu-mei. The Lure of the Modern: Writing Modernism in Semi-Colonial China. Los Angeles and Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. 
  • Wang, David Der-wei. Fictional Realism in Twentieth Century China: Mao Dun, Lao She, Shen Congwen. New York: Columbia University Press; 1992. 
  • Wang, David Der-wei. Fin-de-Siècle Splendor: Repressed Modernities of Late Qing Fiction. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997. 
  • Wang, Jing, ed. China’s Avant-Garde Fiction: An Anthology. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998.
  • Widmer, Ellen and David Der-wei Wang (eds.). From May Fourth to June Fourth: Fiction and Film in Twentieth Century China. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press; 1993. 
  • Yeh, Michelle. Anthology of Modern Chinese Poetry. New Haven and London: Yale University Press; 1992. 
  • Yeh, Michelle. Modern Chinese Poetry: Theory and Practice Since 1917. New Haven and London: Yale University Press; 1991. 
  • Zhang, Xudong. Chinese Modernism in the Era of Reforms: Cultural Fever, Avant-Garde Fiction, and the New Chinese Cinema. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997. 
  • Zhao, Henry Y.H.. The Uneasy Narrator, Chinese Fiction from the Traditional to the Modern. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 1995. 
  • Zhao, Henry Y.H.. Towards a Modern Zen Theatre: Gao Xingjian and Chinese Theatre Experimentalism. London: SOAS, 2000.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules