Contemporary Chinese Literary Texts (PG)

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Module overview

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:

  • Read, comprehend, and translate Chinese-language literary texts at an intermediate level of proficiency.

  • Demonstrate an awareness of the various possibilities for reading literature in relation to relevant historical contexts and a range of theoretical ideas

  • Demonstrate an ability to work individually in researching, synthesizing, and preparing for seminars and written course work

  • Strengthen students' skills in research and essay writing based on English and Chinese language primary and secondary sources


Total taught hours : 20 hours. 1 hour of lectures and 1 hour of seminars per week for 10 weeks.

Independent study : 130 hours

Total hours for module : 150 hours

Scope and syllabus

Topics by week

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

Method of assessment

  • Book review (1200 words) 20%
  • Translation (Chinese to English) (800 words) 20%
  • Research Essay (2500 words) 60%

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