Chinese literature and culture 2 (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Barbara Bisetto
Barbara Bisetto
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
I semestre (Lingue e letterature straniere) dal Sep 28, 2020 al Jan 9, 2021.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The course aims to present the diachronic development of Chinese literature from its origins to the eighteenth century, through the description of the historical-cultural system and the analysis of genres, authors and major works. At the end of the course, students will have to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the topics covered during lessons and of the relevant critical discourses, and be able to describe independently and with critical competence the ancient and premodern literary history.


The course is articulated in two parts. The first part draws a general picture of the diachronic development of philosophical-religious thought and literature from its origins to the premodern era. Topics covered include: i) Cultures, thought and literature from the origins to the pre-imperial era; ii) the founding of the empire and the development of thought and literature in the Qin and Han dynasties (3rd c. BC.- III c. A.D.); iii) The spread of Buddhism in China and the literature of the Chinese Middle Ages (III-VI c.); iv) Literature and culture of the Tang era (VII-X c.): the poetic tradition, the narrative tradition in the literary language and the first written sources of popular literature; v) Urban culture, the development of printing and the philosophical and literary tradition in the Song dynasty; vi) Culture on the margins: colloquial poetry and theatre in the Yuan dynasty; vii) Thought and literature of the Ming and Qing dynasties.

The second monographic part focuses on the literary representations of love in the context of the philosophical-religious system of traditional Chinese culture through the reading and critical analysis of a selection of narratives and dramas from ancient and premodern times.

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.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Ebrey Buckley Patricia Cambridge Illustrated History of China (Edizione 2) Cambridge University Press 2010 9780521124331
Vogelsgang Kai Cina. Una storia millenaria Einaudi 2013 9788806217181
Bisetto Barbara Il laccio scarlatto Marsilio 2010 9788831706049
Ts'ao Hsüeh-ch'in Il Sogno della Camera Rossa BUR 2008 9788817020756
Bisetto Barbara La storia di Jiaoniang e Feihong Ledizioni   pubblicazione prevista a novembre 2020
Idema, Wilt; Haft, Lloyd Letteratura cinese (Edizione 1) Libreria Editrice Cafoscarina 2000 88-85613-88-8
Tang Xianzu The Peony Pavilion (Edizione 2) Indiana University Press 2002 9780253215277
Wang Shifu The Story of the Western Wing University of California Press 1995 9780520201842

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam will consist in an oral discussion that will test the knowledge of the module’s topics (texts, authors, and genres) and the literary and cultural context.