SOAS University of London

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

Traditional Chinese Language and Literature

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/2021
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Full Year

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the module, students will have read and discussed sample writings in the original that have informed the Chinese philosophical and literary tradition as well as traditional popular culture. The introduction of the various styles of writing and term papers will also prepare students for further independent study. Students should be able to read and analyse traditional texts with some confidence. They should be able to identify problematic passages, and with access to a basic reference library they should be able to deal with the issues raised in these texts.


A total of 22 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week.

Scope and syllabus

The module aims to provide students with the knowledge and skills to read, interpret and analyse traditional Chinese texts against the context of the time and culture in which they were produced, as well as against the context of their own time and culture. Texts are read in original versions but modern Chinese commentaries and explanations may be used as reference material. The module will provide students with a good basic knowledge of traditional Chinese literary culture and a useful foundation for further research.

Method of assessment

One two-hour written examination taken in May/June (60%); an essay of 4000 words to be submitted on day 5, last week of term 1 (40%).

Suggested reading

  • Allan, Sarah and William Crispin (eds.): The Guodian Laozi. Proceedings of the International Conference, Dartmouth College, May 1998 (Berkeley: The Society for the Study of Early China & The Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, 2000) 
  • Birch, Cyril (ed.): Anthology of Chinese Literature, Vol. 1: From Early Times to the Fourteenth Century (New York: Grove Press, 1965) 
  • Chaves, Jonathan (trans.): Pilgrim of the Clouds: Poems and Essays by Yuan Hung-tao and His Brothers (New York: Weatherhill, 1978) 
  • Chen Yu-shih: Images and Ideas in Chinese Classical Prose (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1988) Cheng, Anne: Histoire de la pensée chinoise (Paris: Seuil, 1997) 
  • Cheng Shude (1877-1944): Lunyu jishi ([1939] 4 vols.; Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, [1990] 1996) Chou Chih-p’ing: Yuan Hung-tao and the Kung-an School (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988) 
  • Dai Wei: Boshu Laozi jiaoshi (Changsha: Yuelu shushe, 1998) 
  • Ding Yuanzhi: Guodian zhujian Laozi shixi yu yanjiu (Taibei: Wanjuanlou, 1999). 
  • Dingzhou Hanmu zhujian Lunyu (Beijing: Wenwu chubanshe, 1997). 
  • Egan, Ronald C.: The Literary Works of Ou-yang Hsiu, 1007-72 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1984).
  • Fang Keli et al. (eds.): Zhongguo zhexueshi lunwen suoyin (hitherto 4 vols.; Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1988) 
  • Fu, Charles Wei-hsun & Wing-tsit Chan: Guide to Chinese philosophy (Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall, 1978)
  • Fuehrer, Bernhard: “Did the master instruct his followers to attack heretics? A note on readings of Lunyu 2.16”, in Michel Hockx and Ivo Smits (eds.): Reading East Asian Writing. The Limits of Literary Theory (London: Curzon, 2003) 
  • Fung Yu-Lan, transl. by Derk Bodde: A history of Chinese philosophy (2 vols.; Princeton: Princeton UP, 1952), 
  • Graham, Angus C.: Disputers of the Tao. Philosophical argumentation in ancient China (La Salle: Open Court, 1989) 
  • Gu Hanyu changyongzi zidian (Beijing: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1979) 
  • Gu Hanyu xuci yongfa cidian (Xi’an: Shaanxi Renmin chubanshe, 1998) 
  • Gudai Hanyu cidian (Beijing: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1998) 
  • Guojia Wenwuju Guwenxian Yanjiushi (ed.): Mawangdui Hanmu boshu (Beijing: Wenwu chubanshe, 1980) 
  • Hall, David L. & Roger Ames: Thinking through Confucius (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987) 
  • Hartman, Charles: Han Yu and the T’ang Search for Unity (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1986) 
  • Hawkes, David (Vol. I-III) and John Minford, (Vol. IV-V), trans., Cao Xueqin and Gao E: The Story of the Stone (New York: Penguin Books, 1973-86) 
  • Hegel, Robert R.: The Novel in Seventeenth-Century China (New York: Columbia UP, 1981) 
  • Henricks, Robert G.: Lao-tzu Te-tao Ching. A new translation based on the recently discovered Ma-wang-tui texts (New York: Ballantine Books, 1989) 
  • Hsia, C. T.: The Classic Chinese Novel (New York: Columbia UP, 1968) 
  • Hsiao Kung-chuan (transl. by F.W. Mote): A history of Chinese political thought (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1979) 
  • Hubeisheng Jingmenshi Bowuguan (ed.): Guodian Hanmu zhujian (Beijing: Wenwu chubanshe, 1998)
  • Huang Kaiguo et al. (main eds.): Zhuzi baijia da cidian (Chengdu: Sichuan Renmin chubanshe, 1999)
  • Jiang Boqian: Shisan jing gailun (Shanghai: Guji chubanshe, [1983] 1986) 
  • Jenner, W. J. F.: Memories of Loyang: Yang Hsüan-chih and the Lost Capital (493-534) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981) 
  • Johnson, David, Andrew J. Nathan, Evelyn S. Rawski (eds.): Popular Culture in Late Imperial China (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: U. of California Press, 1985) 
  • Lin Qingzhang (main ed.): Jingxue yanjiu lunzhu mulu, 1912-1987 (2 vols.; Taibei: Hanxue Yanjiu Zhongxin, 1989) 
  • Lin Yutang: The Gay Genius: The Life and Times of Su Tung-p’o (New York: John Day, 1947) 
  • Liu Baonan (1791-1855): Lunyu zhengyi (1866) 
  • Liu Shih Shun: Chinese Classical Prose: The Eight Masters of the T’ang-Sung Period (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1979) 
  • Loewe, Michael (ed.): Early Chinese texts: A bibliographical guide (Berkeley: The Society for the Study of Early China and The Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, 1993) 
  • Mao Zishui: Lunyu jinzhu jinyi (Taibei: Taiwan Shangwu yinshuguan, 1975). 
  • Mather, Richard (trans.): Liu I-ch’ing, Shih-shuo Hsin-yü: A New Account of Tales of the World (Minneapolis: U. of Minnesota Press, 1976)
  • Nienhauser, William H. Jr. et al.: Liu Tsung-yuan (New York: Twayne, 1973) 
  • Nylan, Michael: The five “Confucian” classics (New Haven & London: Yale UP, 2001). 
  • Owen, Stephen (ed., trans.): An Anthology of Chinese Literature: Beginnings to 1911 (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1996)
  • Plaks, Andrew H.: Archetype and Allegory in the Dream of the Red Chamber (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1976) 
  • Plaks, Andrew H. (ed.): Chinese Narrative (Princeton; Princeton UP, 1977) 
  • Plaks, Andrew H.: The Four Masterworks of the Ming Novel (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1987) 
  • Poetry and Prose of the Han, Wei and Six Dynasties (Beijing: Panda Books, 1986) 
  • Poetry and Prose of the Ming and Qing (Beijing: Panda Books, 1986)
  • Pulleyblank, Edwin G.: Outline of classical Chinese grammar (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1995) 
  • Qian Mu: Lunyu xinjie ([Hong Kong: Xinya shuju, 1963] 
  • Taibei: Dongda tushu gongsi, [1988] 1991) 
  • Roberts, Moss (trans.): Three Kingdoms: A Historical Novel (Berkeley, Oxford: U. of California Press / Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1991) 
  • Rolston, David (ed.): How to Read the Chinese Novel (Princeton: Princeton U. Press, 1990) 
  • Shapiro, Sidney (trans.): Shi Nai’an, Luo Guanzhong, Outlaws of the Marsh (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1980, Vol. 1, 2, 3) 
  • Shisan jing zhushu [fu jiaokanji] (8 vols.; Taibei: Yiwen yinshuguan, 101985 / 2 vols.; Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, [1980] 61996) 
  • Schwartz, Benjamin I.: The world of thought in ancient China (Cambridge, Mass. & London: Harvard UP, 1985). 
  • Strassberg, Richard E.: Inscribed Landscapes: Travel Writing from Imperial China (Berkeley: U. of California Press, 1994) 
  • Unger, Ulrich: Grundbegriffe der altchinesischen Philosophie (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2000) 
  • Waley, Arthur: The Analects of Confucius (London: Allen & Unwin, 1938) 
  • Wang, David Der-wei: Fin-de-siecle Splendor: Repressed Modernities of Late Qing Fiction 1849-1911 (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1997) 
  • Wang Li: Gudai Hanyu [xiudingben] (4 vols.; Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, [1981] 1995) 
  • Wang Li (main ed.): Wang Li gu Hanyu zidian (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2000) 
  • Wang, Jing: The Story of Stone (Duke UP, 1992) 
  • Wei Zhengtong (main ed.): Zhongguo zhexue cidian daquan (Taibei: Shuiniu chubanshe, 1983)
  • Wilkinson, Endymion: Chinese history. A manual [rev. & enl. ed.] (Cambridge, Mass. & London: Harvard UP, 2000) 
  • Yan Lingfeng (ed.): Wuqiubeizhai Lunyu jicheng (30 cases; Taibei: Yiwen yinshuguan, 1966). 
  • Yang Bojun: Lunyu yizhu ([1955] Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, [1980] 1988) 
  • Yang Hsien-yi and Gladys Yang (trans.): Wu Ching-Tzu, The Scholars (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1957) 
  • Yang Hsien-yi and Gladys Yang (trans.): Lu Xun, A Brief History of Chinese Fiction (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1976) 
  • Yang Hsien-yi and Gladys Yang (trans.): Tsao Hsueh-Chin and Gao Ngo, A Dream of Red Mansions (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1978, Vol. I, II, III) 
  • Yao Xinzhong: An introduction to Confucianism (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000) 
  • Yu, Anthony C. (trans., ed.): Wu Chengen, The Journey to the West (Chicago: London: U. of Chicago Press, 1977-1983, vols. 1-4). 
  • Zhang Dainian (main ed.): Kongzi da cidian (Shanghai: Shanghai Cishu chubanshe, 1993) 
  • Zhang Juzheng (1525-1582): Lunyu zhijie (1573) Zhao Zongzheng (main ed.): Ruxue da cidian (Jinan: Shandong Youji chubanshe, 1995) 
  • Zhongguo Shehui Kexueyuan Zhexue Yanjiusuo Ziliaoshi (comp.): Kongzi yanjiu lunwen zhuzuo mulu 1949-1986 (Jinan: Qi-Lu shushe, 1987) 
  • Zhuzi jicheng (8 vols.; Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, [1954] 1993)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules