EA 232
Male Friendship in Chinese Literature

This course provides a survey of Chinese literature through the prism of male friendship. Friendship, particularly among men, was a theme that resonated powerfully in traditional Chinese literature, perhaps because it was the only one of the five Confucian relationships which was not innately hierarchical. During the course of this semester we will examine a variety of literary works on friendship and famous friends. We will begin with early philosophical and historical prose, move to a consideration of the poetic tradition, and conclude with an examination of fiction and film from the later Imperial period to the present. Among the issues I hope to explore in this course are the search for a "soul mate" as a search for self, the primacy of male friendships over romantic and domestic ties, and changing constructions of masculinity. The format of the class is lecture-discussion with an emphasis on discussion. 

Required Texts:
  •  Victor Mair, ed.  The Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature.  New York: Columbia University Press, 1994
  •  Moss Roberts trans. & ed. Three Kingdoms: A Historical Novel.  Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999.
  •  All the above are available at the Colby College Bookstore.

Readings will also be assigned from:

  • Hanan, Patrick ed.  Silent Operas.  Hong Kong: Renditions Paperbacks, 1990.
  • Hanan, Patrick ed.  A Tower for the Summer Heat.  New York: Columbia University Press, 1992.
  • Hawkes, David trans. The Songs of the South: An Anthology of Ancient Chinese Poems By Qu Yuan and Other Poets.  Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1985.
  • Hegel, Robert E. “The Sights and Sounds of Red Cliffs: On Reading Su Shi.Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR), Vol. 20, (Dec., 1998) 11-30. 
  • Henry, Eric. “The Motif of Recognition in Early China.Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Vol. 47, No. 1 (Jun., 1987), 5-30.
  • Huang, Martin.  “Male Friendship in Ming China: An Introduction.” Nan Nü, 9.1 (2007) 2-33. 
  • Huang, Martin.  Negotiating Masculinity in Late Imperial China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2006.
  • Kutcher, Norman. “The Fifth Relationship: Dangerous Friendships in the Confucian Context.The American Historical Review December 2000.           
  • Liu, Wu-chi and Irving Lo ed.  Sunflower Splendor.  Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Lundberg, Brian. “A Meditation on Friendship.” In Roger T. Ames, ed., Wandering at Ease in the Zhuangzi, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998.
  • Lyell, William A.trans. Diary of a Madman by Lu Xun..  Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1990.
  • Roberts, Moss. “The Language of Values in the Ming novel Three Kingdoms.” Besio and Tung, ed. Three Kingdoms and Chinese Culture. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2007) vii-xiv.
  • Ropp, Paul S. ed.  Heritage of China:  Contemporary Perspectives on Chinese Civilization.  Berkeley:  University of California Press, 1990.
  • Watson, Burton trans.  Chuang Tzu Basic Writings.  New York: Columbia University Press, 1996
  • Watson, Burton trans.  Records of the Grand Historian.  New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.
  • Wang, Jing ed. China’s Avant-Garde Fiction.  Durham: Duke University Press, 1998.
  • Yang, Shuhui and Yunqin Yang trans. Stories Old and New compiled by Feng Menglong.  Seattle:  University of Washington Press, 2000.
  • All of the above are either available online or online reserve in Miller Library.  

    See Course Schedule for specific reading assignments.


    See Course Schedule for class showings; the films will also be available for two hour loan on reserve in Miller library.

    For your Research Presentations:
                William H Nienhauser, ed.  The Indiana Companion to Traditional Chinese Literature.  Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1986. 

                In Miller Reference call number: Reference Z3108.L5 153 1986







    Romance of the Three Kingdoms