CCCH9043 China: Culture, State and Society
Throughout the span of Chinese history, politics and poetry have been intimately if contentiously intertwined, as individuals have communicated their opinions and critiques of the status quo through the indirect medium of poetry. The Confucian Chinese state relies not just on a virtuous monarch, but also on the consultation and criticism of the people. Poetry, therefore, is an essential tool for mediating between the authority of the government and the needs of the people. It has been a means for scholars to sway the mind of the king; for women to re-examine their own place in society; and for citizens to debate the meaning of nation and patriotism.
This course introduces students to fundamental social and political issues at different periods in Chinese history through the primary source of poetic texts. As the relationship between the populace and the state has changed throughout history, so, too, have poetic forms. Our sources range from poems in the Book of Songs that protest the decadence of kings to contemporary avant-garde poets resisting political and cultural conformity. We explore the power of poetry and how it can convey radical messages obliquely, through symbolic imagery and imagined speakers, hence evading censorship by the regime. Students will also be given the opportunity to experiment writing their own poetry in different forms and genres.
Course Learning Outcomes
On completing the course, students will be able to:
- Demonstrate an appreciation of the cultural relevance and ideological importance of poetry to Chinese society, both traditional and contemporary.
- Develop a critical awareness of how poetry operates specifically as a mode of political critique in traditional Chinese society.
- Understand and examine the relationship between poetry and contemporary intellectual developments in the Greater Chinese region.
- Analyze poetic texts with reference to the sociocultural and geopolitical contexts of their production and reception.
- Clearly articulate and present their critical views about the efficacy of poetry as a mode of social critique in the Chinese context.
Offer Semester and Day of Teaching
Second Semester (Wed)
|Activities||Number of hours|
|Reading / Self-study||56|
|Assessment: Essay / Report writing||40|
|Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation)||20|
Assessment: 100% coursework
|Participation in tutorials and discussion forum (Moodle)||20|
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