The Ghosts of Modern China
As the new nation of China took shape in the 20th century, its literature gave voice to both dreams for the future and the ghosts of the past. In this course we will examine a range of ghostly manifestations in modern Chinese literature and film—hauntings, exorcisms, and attempts to enlist the spirits of the ancestors in building a new world. Our texts will range from traditional “tales of the strange” to short stories by Lu Xun, the Maoist classic The White-Haired Girl, and the Singaporean horror film The Maid. What pleasures do these persistent spirits offer their audiences, and what might they tell us about the cultures of China, the Chinese nation, and the human experience?
The course is suitable for anyone with interests in China, modern culture, and/or literature and film. No prerequisites; the course is taught in English, and all texts are in English translation. Students are required to prepare assigned readings and films, participate in online and classroom discussion, complete two short writing assignments and make a classroom presentation, and take a midterm and a final. W credit available for an optional research paper.
This course will give you the chance to:
- Deepen your knowledge of the literature and culture of modern China
- Explore beliefs about ghosts and the supernatural, and the roles ghosts and the supernatural have played in the “rational” modern era
- Develop skills in analyzing literary and cinematic texts
- Think about the place and value of stories and literary works in your own life and in the society you live in
- Practice using language to develop and express your thinking
What you actually get out of the course will largely depend on what you put into it!