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Enlightenment, Revolution, and Modernity: Literature and Intellectual Culture of Modern China
/ COMP 219
This course introduces modern China through literature, culture, and critical thought, covering the last decade of the 19th century, the first half of the 20th century, and a few years after the founding of the People’s Republic of China. We will read important examples of fictions, essays, and poems by modern Chinese thinkers and writers. We will engage with film, theatrical performances, and other forms of popular culture from the late Qing Dynasty to the years before the Cultural Revolution. We will also read works that were created at the peripheries of history such as cross-cultural diasporic Chinese writings beyond the geographical limits of China. Delving into issues of revolution, war, enlightenment, and modernization, we will gain insights through close readings of these works about the fundamental questions that were faced by modern China and Chinese people. The first three decades of the 20th century witnessed the great achievements of canonical modern writers as well as eruption of multiple historical movements. They also saw the emergence of a modernized popular culture, new social classes, and awakening gender activists in the urban spaces. The next twenty years underwent a revolutionary turn to be more concerned with nationalist issues under the impact of war. While a singular revolutionary literature ensued in mainland China after 1949, literary and cultural modernism as a form of resistance in the context of Cold War started to develop in the sinophone regions other than mainland China such as Taiwan and Hong Kong. In this class, all readings are in English. Complementary readings in original Chinese texts are not required but welcomed.
Format: lecture; discussion
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
mid-term exam; final exam; final writing project
Chinese majors; Asian Studies majors
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit: