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Early Modern Chinese Fiction: Texts and Contexts (ResMA)


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Asian Studies (research) or another relevant research MA programme. Students from other departments are kindly referred to the course description of the regular MA course.

Successful completion of a course in Chinese literature or art at the BA3 level is recommended.


In this class we will read a number of novels from early modern China (ca. 1500-1800), including The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, The Journey to the West, and The Water Margin (also known as Outlaws of the Marsh), etc. With the aid of critical and theoretical materials we will explore the development of the novel as a literary form in early modern China. By situating and reading the novels in their historical contexts the course also builds on and expands students’ knowledge of early modern China from literary-cultural-historical points of view.

Course objectives

  • Familiarize students with the major novels from early modern China;

  • Introduce approaches that critically engage with key issues in early modern Chinese literature and culture;

  • Develop students’ ability of using critical approaches to analyze and interpret texts, as well as their skills to clearly present their ideas in oral presentations and writing.


Check timetable.

Mode of instruction


Attendance and participation are obligatory.

Course Load

  • 2 contact hours per week=12×2: 24 hours

  • Extra contact hours for ResMA students = 6 hours

  • 8 hours preparing for ca. 12 classes: 96 hours

  • Preparing assignments: 22 hours

  • Preparing for presentations: 12 hours

  • Final essay: 120 hours

  • Total course load: 280 hours (10EC)

Assessment method

  • Short writing assignments, 20% of the final grade

  • Attendance and active participation, 20% of the final grade

  • Essay plan, 10% of the final grade

  • Final essay, 50% of the final grade

The final grade is given on the basis of all four components above. Failure to complete a component cannot be compensated through other components.

The end-term paper is written in two stages: a first version, which will be commented on, and a final version. Students who do not meet the deadline for the first version will lose the right to get comments and will only be graded based on their final version. Students who do not meet the deadline for the final version, will get a failing grade.

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher. A new version of the paper assignment (60%) may be written if the overall mark for the course is “5.49” (=5) or lower. If students take this option, they must choose an alternative topic. They will not be permitted to resubmit the same paper. The deadline for this version will be determined in consultation. (The short writing assignments and attendance and active participation cannot be re-taken.)

The course is an integrated whole. All categories must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.


The course uses Blackboard for announcements, course documents, and assignments, etc.

Note: there is no separate Blackboard page available for this ResMa course. Please subscribe to the Blackboard page of the regular MA course.

Reading list

Since we are going to deal with lengthy novels and a large amount of materials in this course, students should have read at least part of the following novels (available in abridged edition) before they come to the first class.
Three Kingdoms: A Historical Novel (one-volume abridged edition), trans. Moss Roberts. Berkeley: U of California Press, 1999.
The Monkey and the Monk: An Abridgement of The Journey to the West, trans. Anthony C. Yu. Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 2006.
Outlaws of the Marsh (abridged edition), trans. Sidney Shapiro. New York: Harper Collins, 1987.
Articles will be posted on Blackboard. Books will be available on a reserve shelf in East Asian Library.

Additional reading for the ResMA students will be determined by the convener at a later stage taking into account the students’ field(s) of interest. This extra literature will be discussed during the (extra) tutorial sessions.


Students are required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”.

Not being registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the ‘Registration procedures for classes and examinations’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


For further information about the content of this course, please contact the lecturer, Wu Yinghui.


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).