Requirements and Grading

  • Attendance is mandatory and taken in the form of multiple choice tests on the reading material assigned for each class; these quizzes assume the knowledge of class discussion, my lecture notes online, primary texts (literary and visual), and secondary readings. 40%;
  • Four 4-page (font size 12 and single space, with a meaningful title) literary (and film) reviews of primary Chinese works, to be turned in electronically as Word file through email attachment on their due dates; 40%.(1) you must have a meaningful working title that sums up your views like a synopsis(2) develop a good thesis (focus on an issue or an intellectual concern) in the opening paragraph. In the opening paragraph which is like the abstract of a book or dissertation, you must introduce what you want to focus on; name the works and authors you shall include in this paper and discuss; give a very brief analysis of each work, and point out possible limits to your interpretive approach or possible countervailing arguments. To do all these requires a full paragraph (half a page); the scholarly substance of your paper is all in here; don’t present a weak or non-existent thesis in a couple of sentences that are inane and too general(3) as you deal with each work, don’t lose your thematic focus and don’t lose sight of the point you want to clarify by discussing a group of works. Otherwise your discussion of the works in question would seem fragmented and even incoherent, without a thematic threat running through all the paragraphs. Also it is not necessary to deal with literary works one at a time; you can develop your argument or thesis paragraph by paragraph in each of which simultaneously dealing with several works whose parts seem to support your interpretation and viewpoint. Meanwhile, try to respect the integrity, richness and complexity of each work and resist the temptation to reduce a literary work to a couple of ideas.(4) it’s a sign of good scholarship to do textual analysis, to quote from the literary text, and to always mention the name of the author whose work shapes the reader’s views and values. Discuss what the author is doing rather than what the fictional characters are doing in the story. Otherwise you don’t know the first thing about literary criticism, which is having a conversation with the creator/author by interpreting his or her work, even when the author is synonymous. If you treat fictional characters as if they were real people, you entirely miss the point of reading literature, which is to understand the values and attitudes of the writer who is often ambivalent about culture and society.

    The reviews must include discussion of some abstract intellectual issues from our secondary reading and textual analysis of the primary work. They need to be proofread to eliminate typos, fragments and bad diction (choice of words) because the quality of your thought and that of writing are inseparable; your paper will be evaluated on both grounds, in addition to originality. Each review should be an exercise of your analytical and interpretive skills with which to approach a primary work of art in the critical context of secondary readings. No plot summaries. See previous paper assignments for possible topics.

  • Oral presentation; 10 minutes for each person; 10%.
  • Final Exam, 10%.