"Disease" in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture
Division I; Exploring Diversity Initiative;
Cross-listed as WGSS255 / CHIN253 / COMP254
This is not the current course catalog
From early modern anxieties about China’s status as the “sick man of Asia” to contemporary concerns regarding the prospect of transnational pandemics, “diseases” and their related stories have played a critical role in making and contesting individual psychologies and Chinese modernity in the 20th and 21st centuries. Actual diseases, from tuberculosis to AIDS, constitute not only social realities that trouble political and popular minds in their own right; but further provide powerful metaphors for exploring issues of human rights, national identity, and transnational circulation. This course examines how Chinese literature in the 20th and 21st centuries writes and visualizes “disease”–a universal human experience that is nevertheless heavily bounded by culture and history. Specifically, we examine the cultural and social meaning of “disease”; the relationship between diseases on the one hand, and the politics of body, gender, and class on the other; we ask how infectious (sexual) disease, and mental illness are defined, represented, and understood in both male and female writers’ analytical essays and fictional writings in the 20th century; we examine how metaphorical “diseases,” such as infectious cannibalism and fin-de-siècle “virus,” are imagined and interpreted by key culture figures ranging from the founding father of modern literature (Lu Xun), to the winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature (Mo Yan), to the “Second New Wave” film director of Taiwanese Cinema (Tsai Ming-liang); and we explore how Freud’s psychoanalysis and post-Freudian psychotherapy are “practiced” in literature circulated in both print and internet cultures. Throughout the course, we will focus on the interplay between literature canons (fictions, essays, and dramas) and popular media and genres: blockbuster cinemas and art house films, popular novels, photographs and posters, etc. This course meets the aims of the Exploring Diversity Initiative by fostering an empathetic understanding of various groups within China and their relationships with “disease,” and by questioning the power and privilege inherent within such categories as “rural” and “urban,” “science” and “literature,” and “East” and “West”.
The Class: Type: lecture/discussion
Requirements/Evaluation: regular in-class presentation, three short papers (3-5 pages) and one final project
Enrollment Preference: none
Distributions: Division I; Exploring Diversity Initiative;
Distribution Notes: meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under WGSS; meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under COMP or CHIN
Attributes: PHLH Bioethics + Interpretations of Health
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- CHIN 253 - 01 (F) LEC "Disease in Lit. and Culture"