Chinese Language and Literature Courses
Chinese 7A is the first semester in a year-long sequence introducing students to the literature and culture of China, from the beginnings of Chinese civilization through the Song dynasty (960-1279). Reading all works in English translation, we will pay particular attention to the rich tradition of thought and debate in China about the function and essential nature of language, writing, and poetry; and we will explore the evolving conceptions of representation that helped shape how literary works were produced, circulated, and interpreted. As students become acquainted with major authors and works of this long, formative period of Chinese history, they will have the opportunity to develop the reading, writing, and speaking skills needed to engage critically and imaginatively with questions raised by those works. Prerequisites: None. No previous knowledge of Chinese literature, culture, or history is expected or assumed. All readings are presented in English translation. Students conversant in Classical Chinese are encouraged to read original texts whenever possible.
This course examines the complex worldviews of China’s Han period, the centuries that follow its unification and the establishment of its empire. The momentous changes of this period shaped traditional and contemporary views of history and society, philosophy, and religion, and as a result are still relevant today. This course will look at Han “thought,” a word chosen for its range, including religion, state ritual, social conventions, moral philosophy, and thinking about the natural world. It covers both elite and popular culture, and pays particular attention to two works of the second century B.C.E.: the Shiji (i.e., Records of the Historian) or the Huainanzi. Prerequisite: None.
This course is the first semester in a year-long sequence that introduces the basic grammatical structures and core vocabulary of literary Chinese, also commonly known as "classical Chinese". During this semester, students will focus on reading excerpts from prose works of the Warring States period (fifth to third centuries BCE). The primary goal of the course is to develop reading skills in classical Chinese texts; at the same time, however, students will develop familiarity with some of the historical and cultural contexts in which these texts took shape. Prerequisites: Chinese 10B is recommended.
Early Chinese biographical traditions established lasting narrative formulas for the commemoration of exceptional figures, and reflect persistent concern with fundamental problems both of human ethics and of the possibility of understanding human character. Gaining familiarity with representative examples from these early traditions provides a perspective for deeper understanding both of later literature and of some of the recurrent features of the biographical imagination in Chinese tradition. The aims of this course include both developing skills in reading various types of biographical prose in the original and developing critical and analytical skills in developing our own interpretive and comparative ideas in dialogue with source texts. Prerequiste: Chinese 110A; or consent of instructor.
Chinese cities are the sites of complicated global/local interconnections as the nation is increasingly incorporated into the world system. Understanding Chinese cities is the key to analyzing the dramatic transformation of Chinese society and culture. This course is designed to teach students to think about Chinese cities in more textured ways. How are urban forms and urban spaces produced through processes of social, political, and ideological conflict? How are cities represented in literary, cinematic, and various popular cultures? How has our imagination of the city been shaped and how are these spatial discourses influencing the making of the cities of tomorrow? Prerequisites: Chinese 100A, Chinese 100XA, Chinese 100YA (may be taken concurrently); or consent of instructor.
This course introduces Chinese film auteurs since the late 1970s across the geopolitical divides between Mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. We will focus on individual film auteurs (Jia Zhangke, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Wong Kar Wai, etc.) situated in distinct “new wave” movements in these three different regions, each in conversation with the global “new wave” cinema while engaging their respective political and cultural history. The class will combine inquiries of film style with pressing political and social issues facing contemporary Mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Introducing major scholarship on contemporary Chinese language cinema, this class will investigate the assumptions and validity of the notion of “film auteur” as well as notions of New Wave cinema based on a European, particularly French model.
This course introduces the history of traditional Chinese drama from the thirteenth to seventeenth centuries, covering important works from a wide range of genres (farcical, religious, detective, martial arts, historical, and romantic). We study Chinese theater in the context of pleasure precincts, ad hoc markets, ritual parades, and printed matter. The underlying questions we ask are: how did different kinds of spatial structure historically define performance? And how did these varied spatial configurations orient the relationship of the audience to the performance differently? And what general implications did the theatrical space have for the constitution of the self and for social formation in medieval and early modern China? Prerequisites: None.
This semester we will be focusing on selections from the first fascicle of the Dasheng yi zhang 大乘義章 (T.1851: 44), an encyclopedic compilation by Jingying Huiyuan 淨影慧遠 (523-592) who is commonly (but somewhat misleadingly) associated with the southern branch of the Dilun 地論 school. Time permitting, we will focus on three sections: (1) the twelve-fold division of the canon, (2) buddha-nature, and (3) the two truths. We will couple our reading of the Dasheng yi zhang with secondary sources bearing on doctrinal controversies in sixth-century Chinese Buddhism.
In this course, we examine Chinese paintings within the collection of the Berkeley Art Museum and read selected texts of the fiction and drama of the late-imperial period to think about the potential structures of relation between interiority and the object. We will engage in private viewing of the paintings of Wen Zhengming, Shen Shi, Chen Guan, Sheng Maoye, Zhang Zheng and others. Our questions might include: How is a sense of interiority created or reinforced? Where is interiority located? What, in fact, are we speaking about when we invoke either “interiority” or the “object”? How might the museum itself be a liminal space that could influence our understanding of such questions? We will examine the “nonhuman turn” of recent posthumanist inquiry as well as the concern in the literature of the Ming and Qing regarding the confines and limitations of the notion of the “I.” With the instructors, students will curate an exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum to be mounted from February through April 2018. The text of the wall labels and the program guide will be drawn from students' journal entries and papers, and students will make decisions regarding the underlying logic of the exhibition.
In recent years, both area studies and film studies have engaged in self-critical interrogations of what constitutes their field of study. Whereas “nation” as a naturalized category is increasingly challenged to address complex historical dynamic and political institutions that traverse national and regional borders, the notion of “medium” is equally destabilized in consideration of cinema’s historical interactions with a number of media. These critical reflections and efforts of deterroritization place “medium” and “area” in more productive encounter than previously subsuming one under another as a secure body of knowledge.
The dynamic history of cinema's interaction with a number of media (radio, phonograph, architecture, photography, theater, etc) in China can be vividly witnessed when we delve into the rich archive available to us: the virtual archive online, the print reproduction of historical material, the historical films themselves, and the vast Paul Fonoroff Collection Berkeley recently acquired which includes historical film journals, press books, play bills, and other ephemera that we will closely examine. These range of archival material also testifies the multiple dialects and languages involved in the history of Chinese cinema, making the notions of "Chinese Language" or "Sinophone" cinema simultaneously useful and inadequate. The transregional and transnational traffic between Mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia, between Chinese, Hollywood, European, and other Asian Cinemas, between domestic and diasporic filmmaking and reception are equally visible in the materials we will examine. The class will sample a wide range of materials while devoting the discussions to a number of methodological issues concerning the questions of the archive, medium, form, technology in relation to coloniality, nationalism, and transnationality. Each week will organize discussions of these issues through a case study on film stardom, architecture, studio, film aesthetics, film theory and so on. We will participate in the international conference "Shadow History: Archive and Intermediality in Chinese Cinema" in October along with film screenings at PFA and exhibition at the Berkeley Film Archive. Students will be encouraged to develop research projects involving in-depth archival research.