[C] This course will be devoted to reading the English translations of the major Chinese novels, from the Ming dynasty Xiyouji (Journey to the West), to the Jin Ping Mei (The Plum in the Golden Vase), the Shui hu zhuan (The Water Margins), to the eighteenth-century novel Hongloumeng (The Dream of the Red Chambers. Due to the length of each individual text, only one major novel will be the focus of the course each time, though we will often include selections from other contemporary and related sources, when relevant to the overall understanding of the text under study. In spring 2013 we will read the English translation of Xiyou ji, Journey to the West. As we explore this text, uncovering its richness and complexity, we will in turn address issues such as the place of the novel in traditional Chinese literature; authorship and authority; narrative strategies and plot development; Buddhism in China and its meanings and roles in literature and art; buddhafields, paradises, and hells; Daoist and Buddhist magic; the figure and the fortune of Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, in narratives past and present; ghosts, demons and exorcism; travel narratives and geographical wonders; desire, sexuality, femininity, masculinity, and their discontents. In addition to Xiyou ji, representative theoretical work in the field of pre-modern Chinese literature will be incorporated as much as possible.
Previous knowledge of Chinese literature and culture is not required. Spring semester. Professor Zamperini.