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Dr. Martha Selby, Chair 120 INNER CAMPUS DR STOP G9300 WCH 4.134 78712-1251 • 512-471-5811

Spring 2007

ANS 372 • Communion with Nature in Traditional China

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
30570 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
RAS 312

Course Description

The focus of this course is on the theme of "communion with nature" in traditional Chinese poetry, prose, fiction, and thought. The human response to such communion will form the framework within which we will consider our role as readers and our interpretation of the treatment of nature ranging from evocative imagery to realistic record. Lectures, readings and class discussion will examine these ideas, to be considered in the context of Chinese cosmology and major schools of thought, namely Confucianism, Taoism (Daoism), and Buddhism. In the second two-thirds of the course, discussion of the natural and the supernatural will be explored in the great masterpiece novel, The Story of the Stone, also known as The Dream of the Red Chamber (Honglou meng). Recommended films by contemporary directors such as Ang Lee and Zhang Yimou will be viewed for their treatment of nature and their interpretation of traditional motifs.

Primary readings in English translation include works by early writers noted for their writings on landscape and communion with nature - Tao Qian (T'ao Chien), Li Bo (Li Po), Du Fu (Tu Fu), Wang Wei, Meng Haoran (Meng Hao-jan), Liu Zongyuan (Liu Tsung-yuan) and Su Shi (Su Shih). Selections from works on Confucian and Taoist thought are also to be considered. Primary themes will be on the evocative and realistic, and on the cultivated and wild, to be deliberated with the literature of "fields and gardenS", as well as pastoral retreat and solace. Examination of aesthetics of landscape and the landscaped will be appended to discussion of all of the works. A close reading of The Story of the Stone is intended to bring together discussion of the above.

Grading Policy

20% Class (in class and online) discussion, participation and "preparedness." 65% Writing - Critical (60%) and Creative (5%) Components Presentations (5%) Individual "Pre-writing" Presentations of final essay project. Reading Groups (10%) NOTE: There is no final exam for this course.


Cao Xueqin, translated by David Hawkes, The Story of the Stone, Vols. I, II, III (Penguin, 1973, 1977, 1980) Cao Xueqin and Gao E, translated by John Minford, The Story of the Stone, Vols. IV, V (Penguin, 1982, 1986) Richard J. Smith, China's Cultural Heritage--The Qing Dynasty 1644-1912 (2nd ed.; Westview, 1994) Course Packet, Available at Paradigm Books (24th and Guadalupe) *Graduate-level credit - please see me for additional reading and writing assignments


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