Modern 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 modern Chinese literary masterpieces produced in the first half of the twentieth century. This set of literary texts, ranging from poetry to fiction, include representative works by famous writers such as Lu Xun, Yu Dafu, Ding Ling, and Zhang Ailing. The module supplements the literary survey course "Literature, Politics, and National Identity in Modern China" and it 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 Literature

  2. New Poetry

  3. Lu Xun and the Rise of Modern Chinese Fiction

  4. Masculinity and the Nation

  5. Ideology and Realism

  6. Reading Week

  7. Women's Literature

  8. Modern Essay

  9. Narrating Nostalgia

  10. New Urban Culture and Modernist Fiction

    11.       Week 11: Domesticity in Times of Love and Wart

Method of assessment

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

Suggested reading

Core Reading

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

Additional Reading

  • Lu Xun鲁迅, Lu Xun Xiao Shuo Ji鲁迅小说集
  • Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature, Yale University Press, 2013
  • Zhang Ailing 张爱玲, Zhang Ailing Wen Ji, 张爱玲文集
  • Zhou Zuoren周作人, Lu Xun xiao shuo li de ren wu鲁迅小说里的人物


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules