16:217:527 Topics in Classical Chinese Poetry and Poetics

This course introduces the major genres and poets of the Tang dynasty (618-907), generally acknowledged to be the greatest age of shi poetry. It will focus primarily on the art of reading poetry, with attention to relevant historical, biographical, and literary-historical contexts. Emphasis will thus be placed on 1) learning the conventions of particular genres and subgenres, 2) analyzing the stylistic qualities of individual poets and poems through an examination of their manipulation of these conventions, and a comparison with other voices in the tradition, and 3) recognizing the larger stylistic shifts and literary concerns that demarcate the four literary periods (Early, High, Mid and Late Tang). Readings from a selection of modern criticism will be helpful for understanding individual poets, issues and themes. Primary texts and commentaries are in Chinese, so proficiency in reading both modern and classical Chinese is required.

Participation in the translation and analysis of poems in class is mandatory. Students will need to come to class having read and translated all of the assigned poems and critical literature.

Each week 1-2 students will be delegated to present on the weekly secondary readings (highlighted in bold). These brief presentations should briefly summarize and critically analyze the main arguments of the readings and pose questions about them. All other students will read in advance the selected materials and be ready to pose questions about the reading.

Students are required to submit one midterm paper (30%) and one final research paper (50%).

Midterm Paper: 5-7 pages in length. Choose a theme, issue or author and construct an argument based on close reading of two or more texts. Try to be original and careful in your analysis. No research beyond course materials is required.

Final Research Paper: 18-20 pages in length. Discuss a theme, issue or figure based primarily on textual analyses of works by a single author or by different authors. Research beyond course readings is also required. Please see me first to discuss your topic.

Written work for this course must be entirely your own and careful citation of credible sources should conform with The Chicago Manual of Style. For guidelines, see: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html.