Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
ENG 208
Course Title:
World Literature - Asian (China)
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Introduces Chinese literature translated into English, from the oldest texts (ca. 1000 BCE) to contemporary works. Includes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, drama, and film. Examines the cultural and historical importance of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism on Chinese literature. Prerequisites: WR 115 and RD 115 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

Instructors may choose an anthology, individual works, or a combination of both. The course will meet the requirements of a survey, emphasizing breadth over depth, as well as a mixture of classical and contemporary texts.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course, students should be able to:
1. Recognize differences between Chinese and Western concepts of literature and explain how these differences affect what we read and how we read it.
2. Speak to the limits of translation, especially in regard to core Chinese concepts that have no equivalent concept in English.
3. Distinguish the traditional literature of the bureaucratic class from traditional folk literature and recognize the cross influences of the two traditions.
4. Read works of Chinese literature with an understanding of the cultural and historical importance of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism.
5. Write clear, focused, coherent essays about Chinese literature for an academic audience, using standard English conventions of grammar and style.

Course Activities and Design

The course activities can include lecture, discussion, and collaboration, along with other activities such as participating in group projects, dramatization, film and music appreciation, attending a performance, and so forth.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

 Assessment tools may include informal responses to study or journal questions; evaluation of small- and full-group discussion; in-class and out-of-class writing; formal academic essays; presentations by individuals and groups; short and long essay examinations; quizzes; close reading exercises using support/evidence; skits and performances; writing exercises which include evaluation of various interpretations of a text and their relative validity. Both instructor and peer evaluation may be incorporated into the assessment process.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

 The course will introduce and foster understanding of

·        literary vocabulary

·        literary themes

·        literary genres

·        critical reading and thinking

·        close reading and explication

·        literary conventions and allusions

·        contextualization

·        essay and response writing

·        religious, dynastic and political shifts and their influence on the artist and on literature (17th and 18th century periods of anarchy, or the Cultural Revolution, or the 20th century birth of the middle class, for example)

·        the Chinese literary form and its development from early poetry and lyric form through to the novel.

Competencies and Skills

· analysis

· synthesis

· understanding literary texts through contexts such as society, politics, artistic conventions, multiple interpretations of an author, etc.

· writing about literature

· close readings

· critical reading employing reviews and critical essays

· comparison and contrast of Chinese literary history with other western and non-western traditions

· speaking and listening reflectively

· small-group collaboration

Some Suggested Texts:


The following examples of instructors€™ choices of texts in the past are intended here to provide a possible aid to choosing texts in the future. This list is not intended as prescribed or recommended. Instructors new to the course should feel free to contact the campus literature chair, Comp/Lit SAC chair, and/or instructors who have taught the course in the past for further information.

  • Some instructors use no published text, but rely on handouts, taking due note of applicable copyright laws.
  • Some instructors may use general study books, for example:

Literatures of Asia by Tony Barnstone

  • Some instructors may use books that focus on a specific genre, region, time period or even on a particular work:

Chairman Mao Would Not Be Amused: Fiction from Today€™s China, Ed. Howard Goldblatt

Dream of the Red Chamber, by Tsao Hsueh-Chin

The Death of Woman Wang, byJonathan D. Spence

A Daughter of Han: The Autobiography of a Chinese Working Woman, byLao Toai-Toai Ning

Chinese Symbolism and Art Motifs, by C.A.S. Williams

Chinese Literature: An Anthology from the Earliest Times to Present Day, Ed. William McNaughton

Blooming and Contending: Chinese Literature in the Post-Mao Era. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985)

The Analects, by Confucius

The Tao Te Ching, by Lao-Tze