01:165:321 Introduction to Classical Chinese 

This course provides an introduction to Classical Chinese, known in Chinese as文言文 or 古代汉语. Classical Chinese has a history of about three thousand years. Similar to the development and change of everything, language has also evolved and changed. Although Classical Chinese has hardly been used, its structure and style still have a very important influence on modern Chinese. In addition, the broad and profound thoughts contained in Classical Chinese works are an essential part of Chinese civilization, and its ideological system has been continuously studied and inherited until today. The selected proverbs and anecdotes for this course are from the Garden of Stories 说苑, was compiled by Liu Xiang 刘向 (79-8 B.C.E.), a scholar who worked in the imperial library. The purpose of this text is to provide illustrative stories about politics and administration, and in particular the relationship between the ruler and his ministers. Many of the stories are found in earlier philosophical works, whereas others come from books that have since disappeared. In most cases, Liu Xiang seems to have streamlined the style of the texts, often simplifying or "correcting” passages that he found difficult to understand. For that reason, this seems an ideal place to begin our study of literary Chinese.

Course Materials: Textbook: A New Practical Primer of Literary Chinese, by Paul Rouzer Publisher: ‎ Harvard University Asia Center; Bilingual edition (June 30, 2007) ISBN-13: 978-0674022706

By fully participating in this course, you will have a basic recognition and understanding of Classical Chinese. More specifically:

  • Through multimedia course materials, you will build up an extensive vocabulary, learn essentials of important grammar, and be able to understand the various thoughts in literary Chinese.
  • Through in-class activities and homework assignments, you will be able to annotate and explain literary Chinese in both English and Chinese, and express your ideas both orally and in writing in idiomatic Chinese.
  • Through frequent classroom discussions, you will be able to exchange insights and ideas with your peers in order to deepen your understanding or generate new ideas.
  • By completing two oral presentations, you will demonstrate that you can speak and explain classical Chinese you have learned with some degree of accuracy and clarity.
  • By completing two written translations, you will demonstrate that you can effectively read and translate classical Chinese with which you are unfamiliar.

This course covers ten lessons, and each lesson has two class meetings. You are expected to attend every class meeting on time and actively participate in the class activities. Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each class. Three late arrivals to class will count as one absence. Absences can be excused only for religious reasons (must be reported in advance) or documented emergencies (official documents must be provided). Absences related to Covid-19 may be excused in accordance with guidelines from the university. If you expect to miss a class, use the university absence reporting website (https://sims.rutgers.edu/ssra/) to indicate the date and reason for your absence.

For each week, there will be a homework assignment. Based on the text provided, the assignment will be divided into three parts, (1) literal translation in English; (2) explanation in Chinese (简体 Simplified or 繁体 Traditional Chinese accepted); (3) respond to the text with your opinion and insight. The homework assignment will be posted in the lesson module on Canvas at least one week in advance of the due date. The assignments should be submitted on Canvas by 11:59pm on the day before the following meeting, unless otherwise stated. Late submissions within one week of the due date will be docked by 10% for each day they are late. Assignments submitted one week after the due date will receive half credit.

You will give two oral presentations; each presentation is worth 5% of the course grade. For Oral Presentation 1, based on the first three lessons you will have learned, you will read them aloud, then translate them into English, and explain them in Chinese. For Oral Presentation 2, based on the Lesson 4 – Lesson 7 you will have learned, you will present two of the lessons by drawing lots. Specific instructions will be announced one week in advance.

You will complete two in-class written translations (open-book); each translation is worth 5% of the course grade. For written translation 1, you will translate the important grammar patterns according to Lessons 1-5. For written translation 2, you will translate the important grammar patterns according to Lessons 6-10. Type up your translation in a Word file and upload it onto Canvas. Makeup for this in-class assessment is only possible with permission from the instructor in advance.

There will be two cumulative unit tests, each contributing 10% to the course grade. Unit Test 1 单元测验一 covers the first 5 lessons (L1~5). Unit Test 2 单元测验二 covers 9 lessons (L1~9), with focus on the 4 new lessons (L6~9). Rescheduling of a unit test is only possible for officially excused absences or conflicts (official documents must be provided). You can only reschedule a unit test if you receive permission from the instructor in advance.

For the final projects, you will be provided with two texts in English version, and you will work individually to translate each text into literary Chinese and write a 400- character response to each. Each contributing 10% to the course grade. You need to submit your final projects to canvas by due. There is no final exam. Specific instructions will be announced one week in advance.