16:217:525 / 01:165:463 Nature in Chinese Literature

This course will examine representations of nature in major Chinese literary genres and of human relations to nature during the early and medieval periods. Special attention will be paid to general shifts in conceptions of nature as well as larger questions of experience, perception, and representation. Readings consist of both primary texts in English translation and secondary critical works. Relevant cultural and historical contexts will be highlighted in class. Students are expected to participate actively in class discussions, during which the texts will be read closely. In addition to class discussion, students are required to do at least one in-class presentation on the assigned readings. At the end of each class, the professor will briefly introduce the coming week’s readings and provide questions and issues for thinking about the texts. No background in Chinese language or literature is required. Students with reading ability in Classical Chinese are encouraged to read the texts in the original, though class discussions will be based on the English translations.

Participation in the discussion of texts in class is mandatory. Students will need to come to class having read and reflected on all of the assigned works and critical literature. All students are expected to speak at least once per session (e.g. by posing a question, expressing a view point).

Each week 1-2 students will be delegated to present on the weekly secondary readings. 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 (40%).

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: For undergraduate students, the final paper should be 10-12 pages in length; for graduate students, 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.

Course Materials: Stephen Owen, An Anthology of Chinese Literature: Beginnings to 1911. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996.