Introduction to Asian Literature - 3rd year

Introduction to Asian literature, focusing on representative texts by major authors in major genres from antiquity to the present. This course will emphasize the literature of China and Japan, India, Korea, and Vietnam.


By the end of the course, the student will be able to:

1. Identify and analyze a variety of representative Asian literary masterpieces, genres and authors, especially of the core Asian culture, China;

2. Define the social and historical contexts out of which major Asian genres emerged and trace the development of these genres over time and across cultures;

3. Compare and contrast writing styles and generic forms of different periods and different Asian cultures;

4. Identify major themes of representative Asian poetic, fictional and dramatic works;

5. Trace the influence of Asian literature upon Western literature.


1. Chinese transcription in English;

2. Chinese poetic forms;

3. Adoption of Chinese poetic forms by other East Asian traditions;

4. Japanese poetic forms;

5. Influence of Chinese and Japanese poetry in the West;

6. Taoist literature;

7. Buddhist literature;

8. The Confucian canon;

9. Moral and devotional writing;

10. Early Chinese utopian literature;

11. Japanese poetic diaries and travel writing;

12. Asian fiction in the era of modernization;

13. Autobiographical fiction; introduction to Asian drama;

14. Introduction to modern Asian popular genres; Asian film;

15. Asian-American writing.

Method of Instruction:

1. Lecture

2. Discussion

3. Exercises

Types of Assignments:

1. Classification of literary works by genre

2. Comparison and contrast of genres, forms, and writing styles

3. Literary analysis using primary and secondary sources

4. Discussion of themes and cultural issues contained in the readings

Sample Text:

1. A Haiku Journey: Basho’s Narow Road to a Far Province (Kodansha, 1980)

2. Family (Pa Chin, Cheng and Tsui Co., 1972)