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Early Modern Chinese Fiction: Texts and Contexts


Admission requirements

Successful completion of a course in Chinese literature or art at the BA3 level is recommended.


In this class we will read a number of novels from early modern China (ca. 1500-1800), including The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, The Journey to the West, and The Water Margin (also known as Outlaws of the Marsh), etc. With the aid of critical and theoretical materials we will explore the development of the novel as a literary form in early modern China. By situating and reading the novels in their historical contexts the course also builds on and expands students’ knowledge of early modern China from literary-cultural-historical points of view.

Course objectives

  • Familiarize students with the major novels from early modern China;

  • Introduce approaches that critically engage with key issues in early modern Chinese literature and culture;

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


Check timetable

Mode of instruction


Course Load

2 contact hours per week=12×2: 24 hours
8 hours preparing for ca. 12 classes: 96 hours
Preparing assignments: 24 hours
Preparing for presentations: 16 hours
Final essay: 120 hours
Total course load: 280 hours (10EC)

Assessment method

  • Short writing assignments, 20% of the final grade

  • Attendance and active participation, 20% of the final grade

  • Essay plan, 10% of the final grade

  • Final essay, 50% of the final grade
    The final grade is given on the basis of all four components above. Failure to complete a component cannot be compensated through other components.


The course uses Blackboard for announcements, course documents, and assignments, etc.

Reading list

Since we are going to deal with lengthy novels and a large amount of materials in this course, students should have read at least part of the following novels (available in abrdiged edition) before they come to the first class.

  • Three Kingdoms: A Historical Novel (one-volume abridged edition), trans. Moss Roberts. Berkeley: U of California Press, 1999.

  • The Monkey and the Monk: An Abridgement of The Journey to the West, trans. Anthony C. Yu. Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 2006.

  • Outlaws of the Marsh (abridged edition), trans. Sidney Shapiro. New York: Harper Collins, 1987.

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


Registration through uSis

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte via:
Registration Contractonderwijs via:


For further information about the content of this course, please contact the lecturer Yinghui Wu.