Chinese literature and culture 1 (2019/2020)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Daniele Beltrame
Daniele Beltrame
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
I semestre (Lingue e letterature straniere) dal Sep 30, 2019 al Jan 11, 2020.

Lesson timetable

Go to lesson schedule

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students should possess a thorough knowledge of the most influential authors and of the main works, genres, and trends, as well as of the historical and cultural context of China’s literary history between the mid-Eighteenth Century and the contemporary era. At the end of the course the students will be able to describe autonomously and with enough critical competence the cultural and literary history of modern China.


First examples of premodern fiction and poetry, the transition from classical to modern Chinese literature, the first blooming of a commercial 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” (1949-1966) literature, the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), post-Mao era literature, literary trends of the Eighties, the Nineties and the 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: ONLY essays number 1, 10, 11, 13, 24, 25, 31, 34, 37, 54.

- Pesaro, Nicoletta; Pirazzoli, Melinda (2019). "La narrativa cinese del Novecento". Roma: Carocci.
In detail:
Chapter 1 ALL EXCEPT 1.5
Chapter 2 ALL
Chapter 3 – ONLY 3.2, 3.4 e 3.6
Chapter 4 – ONLY 4.1 e 4.4
Chapter 5 – ALL EXCEPT 5.6
Chapter 6 ALL
Chapter 7 ALL
Chapter 8 – ALL EXCEPT 8.2 e 8.5
Chapter 9 – ALL EXCEPT 9.3
Chapter 10 – ALL EXCEPT 10.4

- Vogelsang, Kai (2014). “Cina. Una storia millenaria”. Torino: Einaudi: ONLY pp. 400-571.

- The materials uploaded on the e-learning page of the course.

Recommended materials fro further reference:

1) For the history of modern China:

- Samarani, Guido (2008). "La Cina del Novecento: Dalla fine dell’impero ad oggi". Torino: Einaudi.
[republished as: 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:

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

- Wang, David Der-Wei (2010). “Chinese Literature from 1841 to 1937”. In: Chang Kang-I Sun; Owen, Stephen (eds.).
“The Cambridge History of Chinese Literature, vol. II”. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 413-564.

- Yeh, Michelle (2010). “Chinese Literature from 1937 to the present”. In: Chang Kang-I Sun; Owen, Stephen (eds.). “The Cambridge History of Chinese Literature, vol. II”. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 565-705.

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

3) Anthologies of modern and contemporary 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.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Vogelsang, Kai Cina. Una storia millenaria Einaudi 2014 9788806217181
nicoletta pesaro La narrativa cinese del Novecento (Edizione 1) Carocci 2019 884309825X
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 by the students during the course. The content of the exam will be the entire syllabus of the course and its textbooks; the materials required for the exam are the textbooks (only the pages indicated above) and the lessons uploaded on the e-learning page, which summarize and complement the content of the lessons.
The exam will consist of a written test containing multiple-choice questions and open questions. The final note will be the sum of all the correct answers. The exam will last two hours. The test will be held in Italian but students whose mother tongue is not Italian can choose to write in English, in French or in Chinese, but in this case 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 of the exam will be published on the e-learning page of the course and an e-mail will be sent to all the students (to their university mailbox) to inform them that the results are already uploaded. The students who choose to reject the mark should inform the teacher by writing from the university address to the institutional address within a week since the publication of the results.