BA East Asian Studies with International Study / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Navigation of Emotions in Chinese Culture

Course unit fact file
Unit code CHIN36991
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


Ever since its inception, the Chinese cultural tradition has paid a considerable amount of attention to emotional experiences. This course unit revolves around the theme of emotion and navigates a wide range of cultural genres that manifest the multi-faceted affective landscape from ancient to contemporary China. It will examine Chinese literary and filmic works in reference to such varied materials as intellectual debates, medical treatises, religious teachings, and so forth, with a particular emphasis on the representation of specific emotions. Moreover, the course unit will incorporate cultural texts from other East Asian traditions for comparative exploration of emotional experiences. In this way, the course unit will not only situate the conception of emotion in China’s different historical and spatial contexts, but also provide critical perspectives on the intersectional potential of emotions. All readings will be in English translation, but students with high Chinese proficiency are encouraged to refer to the source texts. 


This course unit will enable students to appreciate a great variety of emotional experiences represented in Chinese cultural materials and gain an in-depth perspective on the Chinese discursive traditions as well as their affective negotiations. It further makes it possible for students to critically engage with a wide cluster of cultural genres produced in China and broaden their conception of emotions. Through this course, students will be able to reflect upon their own emotional experiences and encounters through the mediation of cultural documents.  

Knowledge and understanding

  • Gain a comprehensive and deeper understanding of literary and filmic representations of emotions in China and East Asia at large. 

  • Become familiar with a range of literary genres and multimedia materials that feature the theme of emotion. 

  • Approach discursive interactions in a critical and contextualised manner. 

Intellectual skills

  • Analyse and interpret primary materials with enhanced critical acumen. 

  • Demonstrate sharpened sensitivity to cultural motifs and themes related to emotions in China and East Asia. 

  • Critically assess concepts and arguments presented in secondary sources. 

  • Articulate original and cogent arguments in both speech and writing. 

Practical skills

  • Cultivate engaging and interactive discussion skills. 

  • Improve critical reading, thinking, and writing competencies. 

  • Acquire research skills for in-depth and contextualised analysis. 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Foster interpersonal and collaborative skills through online discussions, seminar participation, and group activities in lectures. 

  • Develop skills for time management and resource organisation through the processes of pacing reading and searching for paper-related materials.  

  • Increase multimedia literacy and presentation skills through the final presentation. 

  • Approach issues and topics in Chinese and East Asian cultures with critical perspectives and independent thinking. 

Employability skills

Become conversant with multimedia tools and platforms
Engage in collaborative discussions, critical analysis, and writing projects

Assessment methods

Assessment task  

Formative or Summative 

Weighting within unit (if summative) 

Weekly Posts 



Recorded Video Presentation 



Final Essay 




Resit Assessment

Assessment task


Feedback methods

Feedback method  

Formative or Summative 

Written and oral feedback on the weekly posts 


Written feedback on the recorded video presentation 


Written feedback on the final essay 


Additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation hours or by appointment) 


Recommended reading

All assigned books, book chapters, and journal articles will be available through Blackboard and the library portal. 

Sample Literary Works: 

Aina the Layman. Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor: A Seventeenth-Century Chinese Story Collection. Edited by Robert E. Hegel. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2017. 

Keene, Donald, trans. Major Plays of Chikamatsu. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990. 

Tang Xianzu. The Peony Pavilion: Mudan ting. Translated by Cyril Birch. 2nd ed. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2002.  

Sample Film Works: 

Chen Kaige, dir. Farewell My Concubine.  

Ma-Xu Weibang, dir. Song at Midnight.  

Xie Jin, dir. Red Detachment of Women.

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Zhaokun Xin Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Available to students on programmes involving Chinese Studies, East Asian Studies, Film Studies 

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