CHIN 482 A
Advanced Readings in Modern Chinese


Modern Chinese Drama
(in Chinese)

The course offers an opportunity for upper-level and graduate students interested in brushing up their Chinese and exploring it in the context of discussing literary texts. The focus on drama will allow us to emphasize the performative aspects of the scripts and study the textual as well as aural dynamics.




Hours: MW 11:30-1:20 Classroom: SAVERY 326      5 credits



Instructor :†† Yomi Braester
  office: C-504 Padelford
  office hours: by appointment
course website:



- The course adheres to UWís rules on plagiarism. Any form of cheating will be reported to the Provost's office.
- Students with disabilities are encouraged to inform the instructor or TA, who will do their best to provide the relevant accommodations.




Assignments and grading

Assignments and grading will differ according to studentsí levels. In principle, students will be divided into regular (R) and advanced (A) levels.

1. Prepare all readings in time

(extra readings will be required of advanced students)
Although the course stresses the literary aspect of the texts, certain language standards and requirements must be met. Students should pay attention to standard Northern Mandarin pronunciation.
Up to 10 points docked for each time student is unprepared

2. Reading reports, in Chinese

Each report should include a summary of the readings of the preceding week and literary analysis. The essays are devised to improve students' expression in Chinese as well as analytical skills. They will be judged based on students' individual linguistic levels and according to their ability to make a point. The class is a literature class, which means that as we move along, more and more stress will be put on discussing the literary aspect of the texts.

Pay specific attention to questions such as: What is the symbolism behind the text in question, in particular concerning the historical narrative and Chinaís place in it? In what specific ways is it conveyed by the text? How does the fact that the text is a stage play contribute to its message? Please make sure to state a clear argument and give examples from the text to substantiate it.

Students are encouraged to write their reports by hand, but typed reports will be accepted. Either simplified or traditional characters are fine.
A report is due every other Monday and should cover the readings of the preceding two weeks .
(R: 850 characters each report; A: 2000 characters each report)
3 reports, 13.3 points each = 40 points

3. Reading reports on extra readings, in Chinese (A only)

1 report of 2000 characters = 5 points

4. Biweekly quizzes

Conducted every other Monday
R: 5 quizzes, 2 points each = 10
A: 5 quizzes, 1 point each = 5
Quizzes will include translation from English to Chinese, from Chinese to English, and sentence completion.
Quizzes will be based on the vocabulary of the assigned literary readings, terms introduced in class, and glossary lists distributed during class meetings.

5. Group assignments: prepare dramatizations
Although students are not expected to memorize the text fully, they should be prepared well enough that the fluency of performance should not suffer from intensive consultation of the papers in students' hands.
(up to 40 points docked for studentís lack of participation)

6. Dramatization reports, in Chinese or English

(R: 2000 characters each report; A; 4000 characters each report)
2 reports, 25 points each = 50 points



All texts available on e-reserve at:

Preparatory Readings
Cui Jian, "A Red Cloth"
Lu Xun, "The Passer-By"

Reading #1
Stan Lai, Peach Blossom Land

Reading #2
Will be decided according to class level,
Probably Lao She's Dragon Whisker Creek, but maybe Wei Minglun's Pan Jinlian

Extra readings for advanced students
Will be decided according to studentsí levels



MON 1/3: "A Red Cloth"
WED 1/5: "A Red Cloth"
MON 1/10: "The Passer-By"
Quiz no. 1; Report no. 1 due *
WED 1/12: "The Passer-By"
MON 1/17: MLK Day
WED 1/19: Peach Blossom Land , Acts 1+2

MON 1/24:

Peach Blossom Land , Acts 1+2
(xiangsheng and Lai Shengchuan's plays)
Quiz no. 2; Report no. 2 due **
WED 1/26: Peach Blossom Land , Acts 1+2
(Chinese costume drama -- lishiju)
MON 1/31: Peach Blossom Land , Acts 3+4
WED 2/2: Peach Blossom Land , Acts 3+4 dramatization

MON 2/7:

Peach Blossom Land , Acts 5+6
(doubling in Lai's plays)
Quiz no. 3; Report no. 3 due ***
WED 2/9: Peach Blossom Land , Acts 5+6 dramatization
MON 2/14: Dragon Whisker Creek, 1-1
WED 2/16: Dragon Whisker Creek, 1-2
MON 2/21: Presidentís Day
WED 2/23:

Dragon Whisker Creek, 2-1
Quiz no. 4; Drama Report #1 due
MON 2/28: Dragon Whisker Creek, 2-2
WED 3/2: Dragon Whisker Creek, 3-1
Advanced students: extra reading report due
MON 3/7: Dragon Whisker Creek, 3-2
WED 3/9:

Quiz no. 5
MON 3/14: Drama Report #2 due
Reading report no. 1
("A Red Cloth")

Summarize class discussion on Cui Jian's poem. What is the symbolism behind the red cloth? How does Cui's choice of words and tone of speech affect the poem's message? You may get inspiration from Andrew Jonesís essay in the handout.
Reading report no. 2
("The Passer-by")

Is "The Passer-by" absurd? What does the parable refer to, and how can the hidden meanings be conveyed through acting (from intonation to body language)?
Reading report no. 3
(Peach Blossom Land)
and drama report #1

What is the relationship between the two plays-within-a-play (Anlian and Taohuayuan), based on the fact that the first is a tragedy, the second a comedy?
What is the relationship between memory and Taiwanese identity? What are the implied advantages and disadvantages of forgetting?
How does the interweaving of a modern play and a classical text (Taohuayuan ji) contribute to the playís message? What comic or other effects are achieved?
Drama report no. 2
(Dragon Whisker Creek)

Pick a scene that is depicted differently in the play and the film versions. Analyze the differences and explain their effect on the overall tone of the play and film. Suggest reasons for the change, whether connected to the change in medium, the intended political message, or any other aspect.