FYS*101*16 Description

First-Year Seminar

Can literature save a dying people? This was the question that many Chinese intellectuals asked at opening of the turbulent 20th century. As it became more and more clear that the foreign Manchu (Qing) dynasty could not long survive under the dual threats of internal rot and external aggression, many Chinese people saw not the imminent collapse of one single dynasty, but a danger of the utter elimination of the Chinese state or, perhaps, even the Chinese race. And yet there might be a way to save China: if western science and technology could be imported and domesticated could they be used to defend China? What then, becomes of the old China? Must the Chinese people and society, be reformed in a "western" mold in order to take advantage of the new tools? Does China need to become less Chinese in order to avoid destruction? This course will explore these problems through Chinese literature of the period as well as works of western social theory that the Chinese intellectuals hoped could be used to save China. Students will develop reading, communication, research, writing, and editing/revision skills through multiple written assignments, presentations and student-led discussions. All class material will be presented in English. No foreign, language ability is required.