21G.044 | Fall 2011 | Undergraduate

Classics of Chinese Literature


Weekly Reading Journal

Before class: submit three questions for class discussion to me the day before class (by e-mail)

Write your own responses to these questions and any other responses to the readings in your journal (1-2 pages). Bring your journal with you the day of class for class discussion. Submit (in hardcopy) your weekly journal to me at the end of class. This version of your journal does not need to be polished, but should be thoughtful. If you choose not to type your journal, please write neatly.

If I do not receive your journal by the end of class, I will deduct points from this portion of your grade. More points will be deducted for each day that the journal is late.

Final Project

This class seeks not only to introduce students to highlights from the canon of traditional Chinese literature, but also to consider the idea of this literary canon as a “living tradition,” both in contemporary Chinese societies and in the global Chinese diaspora. Therefore, our final projects will focus on contemporary adaptations of famous Chinese literary works (in film, music, theater, art, anime, comic books, computer games, web sites, and other media). Each student will choose one work of literature (poem, play, novel) discussed in class and research contemporary adaptations of this work. The final project will consist of an annotated bibliography (10 pages, instructions below), project description, and research presentation. Students are also encouraged to pursue a hands-on project or creative option to supplement the research presentation (original creative writing, artwork, dance, musical composition, performance piece, etc.). Final project and presentation ideas should be approved in advance by the instructor.

Examples of projects from previous years include:

  • Research project on theatrical productions of Journey to the West 西遊記 with original performance of scenes from the novel using hand-crafted Chinese-style shadow puppets.
  • Research project on kunqu 昆曲 opera history and performance of Peony Pavilion 牡丹亭 with discussion of Taiwanese pop star Wang Lihong’s 王力宏 adaptation of the Opera.
  • Research project on history of dance performances of classic Chinese novels with performance of original choreography interpreting scenes from Journey to the West using traditional Chinese dance and modern hip-hop choreography.
  • Research project on mixed-media paper artworks related to Journey to the West with original artwork interpreting a favorite scene from the novel.
  • Research project on development of printing technology in China with reference to various editions of Journey to the West (including rare editions held at Harvard Yenching library) with hands-on woodblock printing activity for class.
  • Research project on musical renditions of the Battle of Red Cliff in four different genres, presentation concluded with performance of original adaptation on pipa.
  • Research project on history of weapons portrayed in The Three Kingdoms, including both textual description and artistic renderings, with crafting of replicas.
  • Original composition of a “new” chapter for Outlaws of the Marsh based on a group of minor heroes, including original artwork. Presentation of chapter and original skit in class.

Annotated Bibliography

Introductory paragraph: a short explanation of what your subject is, why you chose it, and your methodology (how you conducted your search, what search engines and search terms you used).

Bibliographic entries must follow correct form according to Chicago Manual of Style. Note that there are two forms—Chicago A and Chicago B.

Annotations: brief paragraph describing the source and its relevance to the original work of literature. It is best if you can provide some evaluation of the source. Is it useful? How close does it follow the original? Is it popular? Some sources may seem frivolous, but think about what you can learn from it. If you’re using a source taken from the Web, be careful to paraphrase information instead of directly copying, which is plagiarism. The same goes for article abstracts. It is okay to use direct quotes from your web site where relevant, but these must be in quotation marks and properly cited.

Watch formatting: check examples in Chicago Manual of Style. Doublespace between entries, etc.

Categorization: especially important for longer bibliographies. Divide sources into categories. Use subheadings to provide reader with an overview of the types of sources. For example: video games, stamps, theme parks, film and TV versions, etc. Alternatively, you may want to organize by national origin of source. For example: Japanese adaptations, British adaptations, Australian, etc. Think about what is relevant or useful for your topic. What is the overall message you’re trying to convey in this document? Then decide if you want to organize by date, or author. Once you have made these decisions, check Chicago Manual of Style for correct form. Note that there are two forms—Chicago A and Chicago B.

Depending on your project, it may be important to divide between primary and secondary sources.

It may be useful to have a few sentences introduction for each category, depending on how you decide to categorize your sources.

Project Abstract

Please write a one-page summary description of your project. This brief abstract should cover the following questions:

  • What did you set out to do?
  • What are your primary sources?
  • What has already been done on this topic?
  • What are your conclusions?

Build on your project proposal.

Append your project bibliography as a guide to your sources.

General: Make sure you use complete sentences. Watch out for spelling and grammatical errors.

Goes without saying: Include your name, page numbers, staple or paper-clip!

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2011
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments