ANS 372 • Heroes/Antiheroes in Chinese Culture-W
12:00 PM-1:00 PM
This course looks at the major kinds of heroic action, along with their transformations, inversions, and subversions in the non-heroic, mock-heroic, and anti-heroic, in the Chinese cultural context. We begin by attempting to define patterns of heroic behavior in the early Chinese histories, the texts that provided models of the heroic that were foundational to Chinese tradition. Our definitions of the heroic will be contrasted with concepts of the hero in the Western epic tradition: in what ways do differences in fundamental conceptions of the hero reflect both ideas of meaningful human endeavor in the two traditions and ideas of the relationship between the divine and the human? We will then go on to describe the ways in which heroic models are modified, questioned, and subverted in later history. One question that we will attempt to address is the causes of the erosion of heroic ideals: in what periods of history do heroes seem prominent, and under what kinds of circumstances is the possibility of heroic behavior itself put into serious question? Another question to address will be the relationship between the demise of the male hero and the rise of the female heroine: are there correspondences between the idealization of the feminine and the marginal and the attenuation of traditional models of the heroic? How are the feminine and the marginal figure used as principles of social, cultural, and political critique? Such questions will be built around heroes in major, representative works of Chinese literature, including histories, dramas, fantastic tales, and novels.
Continuous preparation of reading assignments and active participation in class 5% Three papers, (6 to 8 pgs ea) 75% total, papers weighted evenly One mid-term exam 10% One final exam 10%