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

Spring 2010

ANS 372 • Decoding Classical Chinese Poetry

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
31000 W
4:00 PM-7:00 PM
MEZ 1.102

Course Description

This course will provide an introduction to the classical Chinese poetic tradition and is open to all students. No previous background in Chinese language, culture or literature is required. Readings in English translation will encompass a selective sampling of poetry from as early as the seventh century B.C.E. through the 8th century. Lectures and discussions will focus on the literary, cultural, historical, social, political, philosophical, and religious background against which these representative works in poetry arose. Background reading will be assigned to supplement the primary works of literature. Course emphasis will be given to poetry of the medieval period of the T'ang / Tang dynasty (618-907) which is commonly referred to as the "golden age" of Chinese poetry. Intensive focus and close readings will be given to poetry by three of pre-modern China's greatest and most beloved poets, T'ao Ch’ien (aka Tao Qian), (365-427), Li Po (aka Li Bo) (701-762), and Tu Fu (aka Du Fu) (712-770). The poet’s response to the human condition will form the framework within which we will consider our role as readers and our interpretation of the poetic treatment of the human response. Lectures, readings and class discussion will examine these ideas and concepts in the context of the Chinese literary memory. Through this methodical process, we will begin to decode the literary language of classical Chinese poetry and poetic craft. It is through this process of deciphering what can be puzzling or mysterious that the reader may emerge with yet another response to the human condition. Herein lies the allure of classical Chinese poetry - we can still find our way to the Chinese poet’s world today.

Grading Policy

Class Discussion 15% Informal Writing 10% Discussion Questions 20% Critical Writing 45% Oral Presentation 5% Creative Writing : imitation and matching poems 5%


John Minford and Joseph Lau, eds. Classical Chinese Literature: Anthology of Translations Please purchase the following required texts (custom printed) at Paradigm Books (NOT at the Co-op): David Hawkes, A Little Primer of Tu Fu (Rpt. Renditions, 1995) Michael Sullivan, The Three Perfections: Chinese Painting, Poetry and Calligraphy (Revised edition: George Braziller, 1999) Supplementary Background Reading: Articles and book chapters will be posted on Blackboard. (See Course Documents.)


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