A course calendar is available below.

Course Description

This course is an introduction to three of the major genres of traditional Chinese literature-poetry, fiction and drama, with a focus on vernacular fiction. We will read translations of a number of the "masterworks" of Chinese literature. We will also examine the intertextuality between these genres - how poetry blends into narrative, how fiction becomes drama, and drama inspires fiction. Through reading these selected works of traditional Chinese literature, we will examine some of the major features of traditional Chinese society: religious and philosophical beliefs, the imperial system and dynastic change, gender relations, notions of class and ethnicity, family, romance and sexuality. All works are read in translation; no language background is necessary.


This class seeks not only to introduce students to highlights from the canon of traditional Chinese literature, but also secondarily to consider the idea of this literary canon as a "living tradition," both in contemporary Chinese societies and in the global Chinese diaspora. Student projects will focus on contemporary media adaptations of famous Chinese literary works (in film, anime, comic books, computer games, Web sites, music, theater, and other media).


Requirements for this course include the weekly reading journal, short oral presentations, and a final project. Active class participation and regular attendance are extremely important.

***No class absence, except in cases of illness, or family emergency. Please inform me in advance by e-mail.


Class Participation 30%
Final Project/Presentation 30%
Weekly Journal 15%
Informal Presentations 10%
Annotated Bibliography 15%


Please consult the reading assignments before purchasing books, as many works will not be read in their entirety. However, I hope you will finish reading them on your own.

Please visit readings for a comprehensive listing of texts and reading materials used in this course. A listing of films is also available.


1 Introduction
2 Lecture: Introduction to Chinese Culture
Poetry and Classic Stories
3 Lecture
4 Discussion Journal #1 due
Introduction to Drama: The Story of the Western Wing
5 Library Workshop
6 Lecture
7 Discussion and Dramatic Exercise Journal #2 due
Introduction to the Novel: Three Kingdoms
8 Lecture
9 Discussion Journal #3 due
Outlaws of the Marsh
10 Lecture
11 Discussion Journal #4 due
12 Discussion: Film Adaptations of Outlaws of the Marsh
The Journey to the West
13 Lecture
14 Discussion Journal #5 due
15 Discussion: Film Adaptations of the Monkey Story Annotated bibliography due
The Story of the Stone/The Dream of the Red Chamber


Discussion: Final Project Ideas

17 Field Trip Field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA)
18 Discussion Journal #6 due
19 Discussion Journal #7 due
20 Field Trip Field trip to the Chinese House at the Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, MA)
21 Discussion
22-24 Student Presentations
25 Submit Final Project Final project due
26 Class Party