Classics of Chinese Literature

Gentleman wearing robes sits cross-legged on the floor reading a book.

The Kangxi Emperor of China at age 45. (Courtesy of the Palace Museum, Beijing. Used with permission.)


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As Taught In

Fall 2011



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Course Description

Course Features

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.

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Emma Teng. 21G.044 Classics of Chinese Literature. Fall 2011. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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