Writing Lives in China
How are human lives conveyed in words? Whose lives are deemed worthy of being recorded, for whom, and to what ends? Do life narratives focus on outstanding individuals and heroic feats, or on people with ordinary cares? How do the conventions of autobiography both resemble and differ from those of biography? Approaching these questions in the Chinese literary tradition, we will explore themes of friendship, love, education, death, mourning, and commemoration in prose genres ranging from official biographies to personal letters and diaries. We will read texts by Sima Qian, Li Qingzhao, Liu Zongyuan, Shen Fu, Yang Jiang, and others. This course will be taught in English.