You are here

CHIN 461: History Of Chinese Literature

Meeting Time: 
MTWThF 9:30am - 10:20am
PAR 206
Ping Wang's photo
Ping Wang

Syllabus Description:



Parrington 206


Professor: Wang Ping 王平

Office hour: Gowen Hall M-246, Friday 10:30-11:20 or by appointment



            Course description


            Chinese 461 is part of a three-quarter series of courses on the history of Chinese literature. The objective of these courses is to provide students in Chinese language and literature basic knowledge of Chinese literary history and to introduce the most important primary and secondary sources that are useful for doing research in this field.


            This course is not for the casual student who is curious about Chinese culture. It is a course intended for upper-division students and beginning graduate students in Chinese studies. The course will be taught to the level of these students.


            In Chinese 461 we shall survey Chinese literary history from earliest times to the Tang dynasty, focusing on major writers and works. The course will be divided into three units:

 1. Pre-Qin literature (Earliest Times to 221 B.C.)

 2. Qin and Han literature (221 B.C.–A.D. 220)

 3. Wei-Jin-Nanbeichao literature (220–581)


  1. Textbook and Reading assignments


The required textbook is Stephen Owen, ed. and trans. An Anthology of Chinese Literature. New York: W.W. Norton, 1996. It may be purchased in the textbook section of the University Bookstore or from the web sites of Barnes & Noble ( or Amazon (


Other readings are posted on the course web page:

The assignments are indicated in the class schedule. Please note that these readings are required.


Please read the assigned material for each lecture before coming to class.


  1. Examinations


            There will be three examinations, one for each unit. The exams will consist of short answer questions that pertain to the material covered in the assigned readings and lectures. Sample questions:


            Briefly summarize C.H. Wang’s article on early Chinese heroism. What does he mean by “ellipsis of battle”?


            Identify the work from which the following lines come. Explain what the general meaning is.


At dawn I set to fare across the White Waters,

I climbed Mount Lang-feng, there tethered my horses.

All at once I looked back, my tears were streaming,

Sad that the high hill lacked any woman.


Explain the following names and terms:


Jian’an Era Literature

Yongming Poetry

Sima Xiangru


The exams will be given on the following dates:


            Unit I exam: Friday, October 23

            Unit II exam: Friday, November 13

            Unit III exam: Thursday, December 10


  1. Grading:


            Examination 1:            25%


            Examination 2:            25%


            Examination 3:            25%


            Participation and Posting Discussion and Written Responses on Canvas:    25%


  1. Note on disability resources.


To request academic accommodations due to a disability, contact:


            Disability Resources for Students

            448 Schmitz

            206-543-8924 (V/TTY)


If you have a letter from that office indicating that you have a disability which requires academic accommodations, present the letter to the instructor so that we can discuss the accommodations needed for the class.


  1. Schedule


            Unit I: Pre-Qin Literature (the assignments follow the dates)


Wednesday, September 30                 Introduction to the course


Thursday, October 1              Early China and Its Literature


            Reading, Owen, Anthology, Timeline, “Introduction,” “A Note on Translation,” “Early China,” 3-9.


Friday,            October 2                    Shi jing: Introduction


            Reading, “The Thirteen Classics,” Owen, Anthology, “The ‘Great Preface’ to the Classic of Poetry,” 64-67.


Monday, October 5                Shi jing: the “Guo feng” songs


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 30-57.


Tuesday, October 6                Shi jing: the “Ya” and “Song”


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, “Beginnings,” 10-25.

CH Wang, “Towards Defining a Chinese Heroism;”

            “The Weniad -A Chinese Epic in Shih ching”


Wednesday, October 7           Studies of Shi jing in Excavated Manuscripts


            Martin Kern, “The Odes in Excavated Manuscripts”


Thursday-Friday, Oct. 8-9     Professor Attending Annual AOS Meeting in Colorado. No class.


Monday, October 12              Chu ci: Introduction


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 155–56;


David Hawkes, “General Introduction,” in The Songs of the South, 15–66.


Tuesday, October 13              Chu ci: “Nine Songs” and “Tian wen”


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 156-62; Hawkes, “Tian wen,” 122-151.



Wednesday, October 14         Chu ci: “Li sao” and “Jiu zhang”


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 162-75;



Thursday, October 15                        The Chu ci Tradition: “Jiu bian,” “Far Roaming,” and “Summons”


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 176-81, 204–11


Online Discussion and/or Written Response I


Friday, October 16                 Yi jing


            Reading: Richard Wilhelm, trans., The I Ching, 1-15; Hellmut Wilhelm, “The Hexagrams Ch’ien and K’un” in Change Eight Lectures on the I Ching, 48-63.


Monday, October 19              Shu jing I


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, “Early Political Oratory,” 124-134

Karlgren, The Book of Documents, “Yao tien” 1-8.


Tuesday, October 20              Shu jing II


            Reading: Karlgren, The Book of Documents, “Yu kung,” 18-28; “Gan shi” and “Pan Geng,” 18-28; “Kin t’eng;” 35-36.


Wednesday, October 21         Warring States Rhetorical and Narrative Prose


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 77-101, 128-30.


Thursday, October 22                        Zhuangzi


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 102-123, 295–99.

A.C. Graham, trans., Chuang Tzu, 43-47 (“Going rambling without a destination”)


Friday, October 23                 Unit I exam



            Unit II: Han literature


Monday, October 26              Introduction to Han Literature


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, “Si-ma Qian,” 135-154



Tuesday, October 27              Han fu: Introduction and Mei Sheng


            Reading: Mei Sheng, “Qi fa”


Wednesday, October 28         Han fu: Sima Xiangru


            Reading: Sima Xiangru, “Rhapsody of Sir Vacuous” and “Rhapsody on the Imperial Park” in Knechtges, trans., Wen xuan, Volume Two, 53-114.


Thursday, October 29                        Frustration fu


            Reading: Hellmut Wilhelm, “The Scholar’s Frustration: Notes on a Type of Fu.”


Online Discussion and/or Written Response II


Friday, October 30                 A fu by an Imperial Concubine


            Reading: David R. Knechtges, “The Poetry of an Imperial Concuubine”     


Monday, November 2                        Fu: Yang Xiong


            Reading: Yang Xiong, “The Sweet Springs Palace Rhapsody,” in Knechtges, trans., Wen xuan, Volume Two, 17-38.


Tuesday, November 3                        Fu: Ban Gu


            Reading: Ban Gu, “Western Capital Rhapsody,” in Knechtges, trans., Wen xuan, Volume One, 93-145.


Wednesday, November 4        Fu: Middle Eastern Han: Zhang Heng


            Reading: Zhang Heng, “Western Metropolis Rhapsody,” in Knechtges, trans., Wen xuan, Volume One, 181-242.           


Thursday, November 5           Fu: Zhao Yi


            Reading: Gong Kechang, “Zhao Yi, the Satirist.”


Friday, November 6                Fu of the Jian’an Period: Mi Heng


            Reading: William Graham, “Mi Heng’s ‘Rhapsody on a Parrot’”


Monday, November 9                        Han shi: Introduction; “Chu Song” and Ceremonial yuefu


            Reading: Martin Kern, “The Poetry of Han Historiography.”


Tuesday, November 10                      Popular Songs


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 227-248.

            Hans H. Frankel, “The Chinese Ballad ‘Southeast Fly the Peacocks.’”


Wednesday, November 11                  Holiday


Thursday, November 12                     Five-syllable and Seven-syllable line verse


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, “Lady Li’s Biography,” 215-218, “Li Ling & Su Wu Parting Poems,” 251-252.


Friday, November 13                          Unit Exam II



            Unit III: Wei, Jin, Nanbeichao literature


Monday, November 16                      Background to the Period and Introduction


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 221-226.


Tuesday, November 17                      Jian’an literature


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, “Wang Can,” “Nineteen Old Poems,” 252-270.


Wednesday, November 18                  Cao Family Poets, “Famine and Feast”


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 274-94.

            Robert Joe Cutter, “Cao Zhi’s (192–232) Symposium Poems.”


Thursday, November 19                     Zhengshi Literature


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 270-273.


Online Discussion and/or Written Response III



Friday,            November 20                          Eastern Jin and Song Literature: Tao Qian


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 309-19.


Monday, November 23                      Xie Lingyun


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 319-23.


Tuesday, November 24                      Bao Zhao (ca. 414-466)



            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 323–24.

            Knechtges, “Pao Chao’s ‘Rhapsody on the Ruined City’: Date and Circumstances of Composition.”


Wednesday, November 25                  Xie Huilian, Xie Zhuang


            Reading: Xie Huilian, “Rhapsody on Snow” and Xie Zhuang, “Rhapsody on the Moon,” in Knechtges, trans., Wen xuan, Volume Three, 21-35.


Thursday-Friday, November 26-27   Holiday


Monday, November 30                      The Southern Courts: Xie Tiao and He Xun


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 325-326.


Tuesday, December 1                         Shen Yue and Prosodic Innovation


            Reading: Victor Mair and Mei Tsu-lin. “The Sanskrit Origins of Recent Style Prosody.” HJAS 51.1 (1991): 375-470.


Wednesday, December 2                    Qi-Liang literature: The “Palace Style”


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 326-334.

            Goh, Meow-Hui. “Manifesting Pattern of Design: Wang Rong’s Practice of Tonal Prosody”


Thursday, December 3                       Jiang Yan and Yu Xin


            Reading: Paul Kroll, “Farther South: Jiang Yan in Darkest Fujian.”


Friday, December 4                            Narrative Prose


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 297-309.

            Robert F. Campany, “Ghosts Matter: The Culture of Ghosts in Six Dynasties Zhiguai



Monday, December 7             Traditional Literature Theory, Lu Ji, “Fu on Literature”


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 335-343.


Tuesday, December 8             Cao Pi, “A Discourse on Literature”


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 359-361.


Wednesday, December 9        Liu Xie, “Carving the Dragon”


            Reading: Owen, Anthology, 343-359.



Thursday, December 10         Unit Exam III 9:30-10:20AM, PAR 206     


Friday, December 11              Online Discussion and/or Written Response IV



  1. Notes: 1) Attendance is not taken. If you miss a session, please consult a classmate rather than asking me. Excessive absence may necessarily impair your ability to contribute to discussion and affect your overall performance and final grade.


2) Ratings for preparation and discussion are determined at the end of the quarter. If you would like to know how you are doing, please see me during office hours.


3) Grade Appeals: Every feasible effort is made to ensure that the grades assigned to your performance are fair, impartial, and carefully considered. Nonetheless, occasionally I do make errors. If the error is arithmetical, then it will be correctly immediately. Just send me an email with your query. I will correct your grade and update it online. If you feel that your performance has been grossly underestimated, then please see me in my office to express your views and I will explain the process by which I evaluated your work. I will listen to you and, if I believe I have made an error, I will correct it. If you and I simply have a slight difference of opinion on a grade, then my expert, impartial opinion must prevail over yours; the alternative is intellectual anarchy. After meeting with me, if you still believe you are being treated unfairly, you have the right of appeal to the chairman of the Department of Asian Languages & Literature.

University policy states that final grades for the term may not be changed, except in case of a clerical error.


4) Letter of reference: If you wish to ask me to write you a letter of reference, please do so in person, not by email. Stop by my office hours to discuss your plans and provide me with a copy of your written statement of purpose. At least two weeks’ advance notice is required.


5) Recording is forbidden: Attendance of class sessions is limited to enrolled students and auditors and guests by permission of the instructor. The classroom is therefore not a public place, and those present have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Moreover, I assert my intellectual property rights to the content and expression of my remarks. For these reasons, making audio and/or video recordings of classroom sessions without my written permission is forbidden. Taking notes is allowed and warmly encouraged.




Catalog Description: 
Chinese literature from earliest times to the end of the Six Dynasties. Offered: A.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Other Requirements Met: 
Last updated: 
September 25, 2015 - 9:20pm