How do we understand the dynamics of contemporary China, its historical vicissitudes, its cultural transformations, and its imaginary and actual engagements in everyday life?
This course, taught in English by Harvard faculty member Professor David Wang, features five world-renowned Chinese authors who illuminate through their writing, in either Chinese or English (translations provided), five aspects of contemporary China. Yu Hua guides us to understand Chinese politics in ten keywords; the Nobel Laureate Mo Yan introduces Chinese native soil literature in terms of magical realism; Yan Lianke exposes the Chinese economic dream as a carnival of the darkest kind; Ha Jin describes the sentimental journey of Chinese men and women in search of love; Wang Anyi chronicles the ups and downs of Shanghai in modern times through a former Miss Shanghai’s adventure.
Through reading the select works of these five authors, we will discuss China in drastic changes, explore issues that concern the Chinese people, and ponder the power (and limitation) of literature in imagining China anew.
What You'll Learn
- An understanding of why literature matters so much in contemporary China from political, ethical, cultural, and gender perspectives.
- Methods for developing your own approaches to literature and history and gain a critical appreciation of China’s literary, political, cultural, and gender discourses.
- Some of the most pressing issues in China: authoritarianism and individual freedom; traditional bonding and revolutionary mandate; literary articulation and political intervention.
- Chinese cultural phenomena from a global, comparative perspective.
- Methods for explaining how Chinese civilization underwent metamorphoses in modern times.
- Methods for the analysis of literary texts and cultural discourses.
- Methods of critical reading to modern scholarship.
- Methods for expressing ideas more clearly and confidently; thinking analytically and critically through the study of primary and secondary sources.
David Der-Wei Wang 王德威 Edward C. Henderson Professor of Chinese Literature
David Der-Wei Wang 王德威 Edward C. Henderson Professor of Chinese Literature at Harvard University
Wang’s recent publications include Taiwan under Japanese Colonial Rule (co-ed. with Ping-hui Liao, 2007), Globalizing Chinese Literature (co-ed. with Jin Tsu, 2010),and The Lyrical in Epic Time: Modern Chinese Intellectuals and Artists through the 1949 Crisis (2015). He is Editor of Harvard New Literary History of Modern China (forthcoming, 2017). Wang received the Changjiang Scholar Award in the PRC in 2008. He was the 2013-14 Humanitas Visiting Professor of Chinese Studies at CRASSH, the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, at Cambridge University (U.K.), where he gave a series of three public lectures on the ‘Chineseness’ of Chinese literature.
Mo Yan 莫言 Nobel Prize
Mo Yan 莫言 Nobel Prize
Through a mixture of fantasy and reality, historical and social perspectives, Mo Yan has created a world reminiscent in its complexity of those in the writings of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition. In addition to his novels, Mo Yan has published many short stories and essays on various topics, and despite his social criticism is seen in his homeland as one of the foremost contemporary authors.
(The Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 - Bio-bibliography". Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 13 Jun 2016)
- Explosions and Other Stories. Trans. Janice Wickeri. Hong Kong: Research Centre for Translations, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1991. Print.
- Red Sorghum. Trans. Howard Goldblatt. New York: Viking, 1993. Print.
- The Garlic Ballads. Trans. Howard Goldblatt. New York: Viking, 1995. Print.
- The Republic of Wine. Trans. Howard Goldblatt. New York: Arcade, 2000. Print.
- Shifu, You'll Do Anything for a Laugh. Trans. Howard Goldblatt. New York: Arcade, 2001. Print.
- Big Breasts and Wide Hips. Trans. Howard Goldblatt. New York: Arcade, 2004. Print.
- Life and Death are Wearing Me Out. Trans. Howard Goldblatt. New York: Arcade, 2008. Print.
- Change. Trans. Howard Goldblatt. London: Seagull, 2010. Print.
- Pow. Trans. Howard Goldblatt. London: Seagull, 2013. Print.
- Sandalwood Death. Trans. Howard Goldblatt. Univ. of Oklahoma Press: Norman, 2013. Print.
- 2005: Kiriyama Prize, Notable Books, Big Breasts and Wide Hips
- 2005: Doctor of Letters, Open University of Hong Kong
- 2006: Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize XVII
- 2007: Man Asian Literary Prize, nominee, Big Breasts and Wide Hips
- 2009: Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, winner, Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out
- 2010: Honorary Fellow, Modern Language Association
- 2011: Mao Dun Literature Prize, winner, Frog
- 2012: Nobel Prize in Literature
Yan Lianke 阎连科 Franz Kafka Prize
Yan Lianke 阎连科 Franz Kafka Prize
Yan Lianke's ambitious writing is not afraid to explore, dissect and reveal the farcical elements of China’s recent past.
- Marrow. Trans. Carlos Rojas. China: Penguin Books China, 2016. Print.
- Dream of Ding Village. Trans. Cindy M. Carter. London: Grove Press, 2006. Print.
- Serve the People. Trans. Julia Lovell. New York: Black Cat Grove Press, 2007. Print.
- Lenin's Kisses. Trans. Carlos Rojas. New York: Grove Press, 2004. Print.
- Four Books. Trans. Carlos Rojas. New York: Grove Press, 2010. Print.
- 1998: Lu Xun Literary Prize for Huang Jin Dong
- 2001: Lu Xun Literary Prize for Nian Yue Ri
- 2005: Yazhou Zhoukan, "The Best Ten Books Award", for Dream of Ding Village
- 2005: Lao She Literary Award for Enjoyment
- 2005: Asia Weekly 10 Best Novels award for Dream of Ding Village
- 2011: Man Asian Literary Prize, Dream of Ding Village, longlist
- 2014: Franz Kafka Prize, winner
Wang Anyi 王安忆 Mao Dun Prize
Wang Anyi 王安忆 Mao Dun Prize
Wang Anyi began writing and publishing her works in the mid-1970s and with the fall of the Gang of Four, she returned to Shanghai where she worked for the magazine Ertong shidai (Children’s Era). In fact, it is the city of Shanghai that is considered the most important influence on her work. Thus, she can be considered a successor of the Haipai (Shanghai style) school and is often compared to writer Eileen Chang.
- Lapse of Time. Trans. Howard Goldblatt. Beijing: Chinese Literature, 1988. Print.
- Baotown.Trans. Trans. Martha Avery. New York: W W Norton & Co Inc, 1985. Print.
- Brocade Valley. Trans. Bonnie S. McDougall and Chen Maiping. New York: New Directions, 1992. Print.
- Song of Everlasting Sorrow. Trans. Michael Berry and Susan Chang Egan. New York: Columbia University, 2008. Print.
- 1982: 4th National Short Story Prize, The Destination
- 1983: 2nd National Novella Prize, Lapse of Time
- 1987: 4th National Novella Prize, Baotown
- 2000: 5th Mao Dun Literature Prize, The Song of Everlasting Sorrow
- 2012: 4th The Dream of the Red Chamber Award, Scent of Heaven
Ha Jin 哈金 American Book Prize and Hemingway Prize
Ha Jin 哈金 American Book Prize and Hemingway Prize
After the Tiananmen Square Incident in 1989, he wrote “The Dead Soldier’s Talk”, his first serious work in English, which was immediately accepted to The Paris Review. After the Tiananmen Square Incident, Ha Jin not only made a conscious decision to stay in the U.S., but to also switch from writing in Chinese to writing in English. As a nonnative speaker writing in English, Ha Jin is often compared to Vladimir Nabokov and Joseph Conrad.
- Ocean of Words New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2014. Print.
- Under the Red Flag. Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1997. Print.
- In the Pond. Cambridge: Zoland, 1998. Print.
- Waiting. New York: Vintage, 2001. Print.
- The Bridegroom. New York: Pantheon, 2000. Print.
- The Crazed. New York: Pantheon, 2002. Print.
- War Trash. New York: Pantheon, 2002. Print.
- A Free Life. New York: Vintage, 2007. Print.
- Nanjing Requiem. New York: Vintage, 2011. Print.
- A Map of Betrayal. New York: Pantheon, 2014. Print.
- 1996: Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction
- 1997: Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award
- 1999: Guggenheim Fellowship
- 1999: National Book Award
- 2000: PEN/Faulkner Award
- 2000-2002: Asian Fellowship
- 2002: Townsend Prize for Fiction
- 2005: PEN/Faulkner Award
- 2006: Fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences
- 2012: Dayton Literary Peace Prize, runner up, Nanjing Requiem
Yu Hua 余华 James Joyce Award
Yu Hua 余华 James Joyce Award
Yu Hua is without a doubt one of the most popular Chinese novelists in and outside of China. A chronicler of China’s recent transformations and what is left in their wake, he is not afraid to write about sensitive subjects or portray the truths as he sees them.
- To Live. Trans. Michael Berry. New York: Anchor, 1992. Print.
- Chronicle of a Blood Merchant. Trans. Andrew Jones. New York: Anchor, 1995. Print.
- Brothers. Trans. Eileen Cheng-yin Chow and Carlos Rojas. New York: Anchor, 2005. Print.
- China in Ten Words. Trans. Allan Barr. New York: Vintage, 2011. Print.
- Boy in the Twilight: Stories of the Hidden China. Trans. Allan H. Barr. New York: Pantheon, 2014. Print.
- The Past and the Punishments. Trans. Honolulu: Ateneo De Manila University, 1996. Print.
- 1998: Italy’s Premio Grinzane Cavour
- 2002: James Joyce Award
- 2004: Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
- 2008: Prix Courrier International
YOUR COURSE OF STUDY:
In signing up for this course, you will embark on a literary adventure that spans across China geographically and temporally. The course is meant to be an intensive dive into five contemporary novels, providing a lens to understand contemporary China from a literary perspective. You may choose which novels of the five you wish to explore or explore all five.
The course will cover each novel in a one to two week period beginning with Yu Hua and ending with Wang Anyi. Within the two week period learners are expected to watch the introduction videos and interview of the author, participate in the close reading exercises, and reflect, discuss and engage closely with the reading and each other.
Through this process learners will discover how fiction can be brought to bear on China's history.
OPTIONS FOR OBTAINING THE BOOKS:
If you enroll in the Book Club, you will be responsible for purchasing, borrowing, or otherwise obtaining the books yourself. We have provided purchase links below, but you can also buy the books from your preferred seller, rent them as an e-book, or borrow them from your local library.
Red Sorghum: A Novel of China, by Mo Yan (ISBN: 978-0-14-016854-9)
Lenin's Kisses, by Yan Lianke (ISBN: 978-0-8021-2177-6)
The Song of Everlasting Sorrow, by Wang Anyi (ISBN: 978-0231143431)
Waiting, by Ha Jin (ISBN: 978-0-375-70641-7)
China in 10 Words, by Yu Hua (ISBN: 978-0-307-73979-7)
*Disclosure: Amazon.com will pay a commission to HarvardX for each purchase using the affiliate links above. Thank you for supporting the HarvardX mission.
THE HARVARDX PLUS BOOK CLUB OFFERS:
- In-depth video introductions of the novels and their significance with each author.
- General framework for close readings.
- 10 general reading guide questions for each novel.
- Close reading exercises using annotatable passages with instructor questions, contextualization, and comments embedded into the learning platform.
- A comprehensive glossary with relevant literary and historical terms and quotations to reference throughout reading each novel.
- Individual and peer-to-peer engagements, reflections, discussions.
- Informal office hour videos with Professor David Wang and a graduate student.
- Supportive peer-to-peer learning environment.
Week 1: Introduction to Contemporary Chinese Literature and Post-Capitalist China
- Introduction to ChinaX Book Club
- Introduction to Yu Hua
- China in Ten Words
- Office Hours
Week 2: Introduction to Chinese Native Soil Literature
- Introduction to Mo Yan
- Red Sorghum
- Office Hours
Week 3-4: Introduction to Post-Socialist China
- Introduction to Yan Lianke
- Lenin's Kisses
- Office Hours
Week 5: Introduction to Chinese Literature in Diaspora
- Introduction to Ha Jin
- Office Hours
Week 6-7: Introduction to Women's Voice in Chinese Literature
- Introduction to Wang Anyi
- Song of Everlasting Sorrow
- Office Hours
Week 8: Conclusion
- Conclusion to the ChinaX Book Club
HarvardXPLUS is online learning reimagined, with you in mind. All HarvardXPLUS courses are taught by Harvard faculty members. Smaller cohorts enable a higher level of peer-to-peer learning and increased engagement with faculty and teaching assistants. Learners who successfully complete the course will earn a unique and valuable HarvardXPLUS branded credential highlighting the skills and knowledge mastered in the course.
WHO SHOULD PARTICIPATE
This course is opened to anyone who is interested in understanding contemporary China.
- You may be a high school or college student looking to expand your knowledge of Chinese literature and contemporary Chinese history.
- You may be a high school or college faculty member who is looking to use some of the materials to think of new ways of teaching online or in the classroom, or to support professional development growth.
- You may be alumni looking to build your community, a library or book club group that is interested in using the material for your own hybrid learning experience.
- You may be a lifelong learner interested in better understanding contemporary China.
Whether you are looking for a rigorous intellectual experience or a more flexible path through the novels and novelists, we hope you join us in September!
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HarvardXPLUS Credential, ChinaX Book CLub: Five Novelists, Five Novels, Five Views of China
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