CHIN 385 A: Popular Culture in Twentieth-Century China

Spring 2024
MW 1:30pm - 3:20pm / SMI 305
Section Type:
Joint Sections:
GLITS 253 A , C LIT 322 B
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

Popular Culture in 20th-century China:

The Ghosts of Modern China 

This course is cross-listed under the following numbers:

  • CHIN 385A (SLN 12337)
  • C LIT 322B (SLN 11782)
  • GLITS 253A (SLN 15079)

Monday and Wednesday, 1:30-3:20 pm in Smith Hall 305

Prof. Chris Hamm
Gowen M245

Office hours T, Th 11:00-11:50 am

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 discussion in class and via online postings, and take a midterm and a final. 

Learning Objectives

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!

The links below will take you to elements of the course syllabus. For daily navigation, I recommend using the Modules page.

Course Components and Assessment

  • Classroom Participation
  • Postings
  • Exams

4.0 Conversion Scale

Course and University Policies

Texts and Readings

Slides from Class Meetings

Catalog Description:
Introduction to Chinese popular culture from the turn-of-the-century to the present. Topics include cinema, popular music, and popular fiction; emphasis varies from year to year.
GE Requirements Met:
Social Sciences (SSc)
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated:
March 2, 2024 - 10:29 pm