BA Spanish and Chinese

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
The Environment in Chinese Literature and Film

Unit code CHIN30242
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Chinese Studies
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

This course aims to foster in students a greater awareness of how contemporary Chinese literature and film addresses environmental themes. By examining specific works from the PRC, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia, the course will consider the transnational ecological import of culture in dealing with current environmental problems. We will begin with a detailed introduction to, and analysis of, the theories used in the field of ecological criticism (i.e.: a discussion of its origins in western academia and environmental movements, as well as how the various theories has been translated and used in Chinese cultural studies). Following this, we will endeavour to employ various “ecocritical” theories in the close-reading of select Chinese works of literature and film. Together we will examine how an ecological sub/consciousness is present in cultural production, both explicitly and implicitly, and consider how such ecothemes can influence our understanding of our own place in nature and our responsibility to it.

Aims

  • Provide students with a sound theoretical understanding of the discipline of ecocriticism and how it is used in the study of Chinese literature and film
  • Foster greater awareness of the environmental issues affecting the PRC, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia, and demonstrate how these concerns are explored/developed in literature and film
  • Provide students with the opportunity to engage with original Chinese-language source material in conjunction with English-language translations
  • Teach students how to think about the relationship between culture and the environment
  • Improve students’ ability to express complex ideas in oral and written form

Syllabus

The module is divided into thematic sections. The first 2 weeks of the semester focus on the discipline of “ecocriticism” (its origin(s) in Euramerica; the reception(s), translation(s) and usage(s) of the sub-discipline in Chinese and East Asian Studies). Subsequent to this theoretical section are “case-studies” in ecoliterature and ecocinema. Case studies are given 2 weeks each, beginning with (1) ecocinema from the PRC; (2) ecoliterature from Taiwan; (3) ecocinema from Hong Kong; (4) ecoliterature from Southeast Asia. Specific questions and foci for each case study will be uploaded to Blackboard prior to the start of teaching.

Syllabus and assessment information will be uploaded before the start of the semester; readings as required will be uploaded (subject to copyright restrictions). Students’ submissions (both formative and summative) will be submitted and marked via Turnitin (excluding the ANALYTICAL JOURNAL).

Teaching and learning methods

Blackboard 9: Syllabus and assessment information will be uploaded before the start of the semester; readings as required will be uploaded (subject to copyright restrictions). Students’ submissions (both formative and summative) will be submitted and marked via Turnitin (excluding the ANALYTICAL JOURNAL).

Language of Teaching and Assessment: English (Chinese-language materials will be used but with accompanying English-language translations)

Knowledge and understanding

On successful completion of this course unit, students will be able to:

  • Show familiarity with key cultural producers and texts, both literary and filmic, and be able to identify how these works explore themes of an ecocritical nature
  • Demonstrate how a growing awareness of ecological problems has influenced the production of Chinese literature and film
  • Illustrate how literature and film can be used to address contemporary environmental concerns and think of alternatives

Intellectual skills

On successful completion of this course unit, students will be able to:

  • Read, discuss and analyze primary texts of modern/contemporary Chinese literature and film
  • Apply independent critical thinking skills when approaching works of ecoliterature and ecocinema
  • Make connections between different cultural producers and texts, and relate literature and film to environmental concerns
  • Express ideas about literature, film, and culture in the form of well-structured written essays

Practical skills

On successful completion of this course unit, students will be able to:

  • Think independently and analytically about writing
  • Express ideas clearly in speech and writing
  • Read effectively (both primary and secondary texts)
  • Collaborate well in groups

Transferable skills and personal qualities

On successful completion of this course unit, students will be able to:

  • Think independently and analytically about writing
  • Express ideas clearly in speech and writing
  • Read effectively (both primary and secondary texts)
  • Collaborate well in groups

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Length

Weighting within unit

Participation in class discussions. Students will be required to keep a detailed ANALYTICAL JOURNAL wherein they write notes, their thoughts, and questions on the various works covered.

N/A

15%

Mid Term Paper

1500 Words

25%

Final Exam

2 hours

60%

 

Feedback methods

  • Regular oral feedback on contributions to class discussion
  • Tri-weekly written feedback on ANALYTICAL JOURNAL
  • Written feedback on essay

Recommended reading

  • Garrard, Greg. Ecocriticism (The New Critical Idiom). London and New York: Routledge, 2011.
  • Estok, Simon C. and Won-Chung Kim (eds.). East Asian Ecocriticisms: A Critical Reader. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2013.
  • Thornber, Karen L. Ecoambiguity: Environmental Crises and East Asian Literatures. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2012.
  • Lu, Sheldon H. and Mi Jiayan (eds.). Chinese Ecocinema: in the Age of Environmental Challenge. Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong Press, 2010.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Christopher Payne Unit coordinator

Return to course details