BA Chinese Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
The Environment in Chinese Literature & Film

Course unit fact file
Unit code CHIN20241
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Chinese Studies
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course aims to foster in students a greater awareness of how contemporary Chinese literature and film address environmental themes. By examining specific works from the PRC, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, the course will consider the transnational ecological import of culture in dealing with current environmental problems. We 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 have been translated and used in Chinese cultural studies). Following this, we endeavour to employ various “ecocritical” theories in the analysis of select works of literature and film. Together we 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 toward it. 


This course aims to: 

  • 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, and Hong Kong, 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; and 

  • improve students’ ability to express complex ideas in oral and written form. 

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course 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

By the end of this course 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

By the end of this course 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  


Weighting within unit 

Class participation (summative) 

Participation in class discussions is compulsory and students will be marked on the regularity and quality of their contributions. To help facilitate this, students will be required to post weekly reflection on the course website wherein they write their thoughts and questions on the various works and assigned readings covered. The course convener will read these posts every week to assess student progress and address any issues that have arisen. 


Seminar presentation (summative) 

Each student will give a10-min presentation on a topic related to our course. The topic will be provided by the instructor in the first week of class. 


Final exam (summative) 



Feedback methods


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 11
Seminars 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Pao-Chen Tang Unit coordinator

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