Chinese literature and culture 1 (2017/2018)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Daniele Beltrame
Daniele Beltrame
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Semester 1 dal Oct 2, 2017 al Jan 20, 2018.

Lesson timetable

Go to lesson schedule

Learning outcomes

The course aims at providing a thorough overview of the principal trends and the most influential authors of modern (1900-1949) and contemporary (1949-2000) China, as well as the historical and cultural context of the Twentieth Century in China. At the end of the course the student will be able to know and describe the cultural and literary history of Twentieth-Century China.


First examples of premodern fiction and poetry, the transition from classical to modern Chinese literature, the first blooming of a consumer literature, the first modern literary societies, literature and politics in Republican China, from a literary revolution to a revolutionary literature, modern-era theatre and poetry, the war of resistance against Japan and its reflections in literature, the founding of the People’s Republic of China and communist literature, “seventeen years” literature, the Cultural Revolution, post-Mao New Era literature, literary currents during the Eighties, the Nineties and a new commercial literature.

Some major examples of modern and contemporary fiction and poetry will be examined.

Textbooks and materials for the exam:

- Denton, Kirk A. (ed.) (2016). "The Columbia Companion to Modern Chinese Literature". New York: Columbia University Press (essays number 1, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 45, 48, 49, 50, 52, 54, 56).

- Idema, Wilt; Haft, Lloyd (2000). "Letteratura cinese". Venezia: Cafoscarina. pp. 275-348.

- Additional materials will be uploaded on the e-learning page of the course.

Recommended reference materials:

1) For a history of modern China:

- Samarani, Guido (2008). "La Cina del Novecento: Dalla fine dell’impero ad oggi". Torino: Einaudi.
[ripubblicato come: Samarani, Guida (2017). “La Cina contemporanea. Dalla fine dell’impero ad oggi. Nuova edizione aggiornata e ampliata”. Torino: Einaudi].

- Lavagnino, Alessandra; Mottura, Bettina (2016). "Cina e modernità. Cultura e istituzioni dalle Guerre dell’oppio ad oggi". Roma: Carocci.

- Spence, Jonathan (2013). "The Search for Modern China". New York; London: W. W. Norton & Company.

2) For a description of modern and contemporary Chinese literature:

- Pesaro, Nicoletta (2009). “Letteratura cinese moderna e contemporanea”. In: Guido Samarani; Maurizio Scarpari (a cura di). "La Cina. Verso la modernità". Torino: Einaudi, vol. III, pp. 693-745.

- Louie, Kam; McDougall, Bonnie S. (1997). "The Literature of China in the Twentieth Century". New York: Columbia University Press.

3) Antologies of modern Chinese literature in translation:

- Sabattini, Mario; Santangelo, Paolo (1997). "Il pennello di lacca. La narrativa cinese dalla dinastia Ming ai giorni nostri". Roma; Bari: Laterza, pp. 177-357.

- Lau, Joseph S. M.; Goldblatt, Howard (eds.) (2007). "The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Literature". New York: Columbia University Press.

- Lau, Joseph S. M.; Hsia, C. T.; Lee, Leo Ou-Fan (eds.) (1981). "Modern Chinese Stories and Novellas 1919-1949". New York: Columbia University Press.

- Pedone, Valentina; Zuccheri, Serena (2015). "Letteratura cinese contemporanea. Correnti, autori e testi dal 1949 ad oggi". Milano: Hoepli.

- Chen Xiaomei (ed.) (2014). "The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Drama". New York: Columbia University Press.

Teaching methods:

The course will be taught through frontal lessons which follow and integrate the content of the textbooks. Files containing the topics of the lessons will be uploaded on the e-learning page of the course, as well as other materials for further study. All these materials will be useful for attending and non-attending students alike. The teacher will receive attending and non-attending students every week to assist them.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Idema, Wilt; Haft, Lloyd Letteratura cinese (Edizione 1) Libreria Editrice Cafoscarina 2000 88-85613-88-8
Denton, Kirk The Columbia Companion to Modern Chinese Literature (Edizione 1) Columbia University Press 2016 978-0-231-17009-3

Assessment methods and criteria

The final exam will assess the knowledge and the competences acquired during the course. The content of the exam will be the entire syllabus of the course; the materials required for the exam are the two textbooks (only the parts indicated above), the lessons uploaded on the e-learning page and the content of the lessons. The exam will consist of a written test containing 12 multiple-choice questions (1 point each), 10 open questions requiring a short answer (1 point each) and 4 questions requiring a more detailed and structured answer (2 points each). The final note will be the sum of all the correct answers. The test will take two hours. The test will be held in Italian but students whose mother tongue is not Italian can choose to write in English or in French, and they are kindly requested to inform the teacher before the exam.
Students who can't attend the course are kindly requested to contact the teacher.
The results will be published on the e-learning page of the course. The students who choose to reject the mark should inform the teacher writing to the institutional address within a week since the publication of the results.