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Reading Narratives in Premodern China


Admission requirements

No prerequisites. Successful completion of a course in Chinese history or literature at the BA1 and BA2 levels is recommended. Students are expected to exert critical thinking, and to plan their individual engagement/production (final paper) with good strategy and originality. Evaluation will be based on class discussion, familiarity with the material and the elaboration of a workable approach in the assessment of texts and specific issues as elements of a larger social/cultural/literary/intellectual context for the writing of a final paper.


This course uses “narrative” as a broad concept to closely examine a wide range of texts from premodern China. It builds on and expands students’ knowledge of Chinese history and literature. Primary texts will be drawn from the earliest histories, autobiographical and biographical writings, short stories, epitaphs, drama, vernacular literature, and novels, arranged chronologically from pre-Qin to the Qing dynasty. The accompanying secondary literature will introduce different approaches to the study of these diverse genres from different historical periods, helping the students to gain a sense of the richness of the Chinese literary tradition and the varieties of questions one can explore with the approaches one finds helpful.

Course objectives

  • Introduce students to narrotology and different approaches to studying narratives

  • Familiarize students with major types of narratives in premodern China;

  • Develop students’ ability to analyze and interpret texts, as well as their skills to clearly present their ideas in oral presentations and writing.


See collegerooster

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

5 EC x 28 h = approx 140 hours total

  • 13 × 2 contact hours = 26 hours

  • approx 4 hours preparation for each session of 2 hours = approx 56 hours

  • approx 10 hours preparation for oral presentations = approx 10 hours

  • approx 48 hours for writing paper = approx 48 hours

Assessment method

  • Active participation, 20% of the final grade

  • Presentation, 10% of the final grade

  • Short writing assignments, 20% of the final grade

  • Final essay, 50% of the final grade

The final grade consists of the weighted average of all course components. A resit for the final essay is allowed if a student scores a non-passing grade (5,49 or lower) on the first attempt.


Yes. This course uses Blackboard for announcements, syllabus, supplementary course documents, etc.

Reading list

Articles will be posted on Blackboard. Books will be available on a reserve shelf in East Asian Library.


Registration through uSis. Not registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the ‘Registrationprocedures for classes and examinations’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


For further information about the content of this course, please contact the lecturer Qiao Jiyan


There will be limited opportunities to write a thesis for this course and preference will be given to those who need to graduate first.