C LIT 240: The Chinese Century
Mechanical Engineering (MEB) 243
We will not meet on Fridays for the most part. Unless the calendar says otherwise for that week, assume there will be no class on Friday.
“Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.” – Paulo Freire
“Nobody can write who never writes, just as one cannot swim who never swims.” – Paolo Freire
Over the past few decades, China has re-emerge as a major player in the global economy, in politics, and recently even in attempting to slow climate change. Since the turn of the century, many articles have been written in prominent magazines and newspapers calling this the “Chinese century.” We are only at the beginning of this century, however, so what does this prognosis mean for the coming 83 years? With the Chinese Communist Party once again considering science fiction (SF) an acceptable literary genre, many new writers have emerged to present their visions for the future, both of China and of the world at large. As we saw from Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem (trans. by Ken Liu) winning the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel and being short-listed for the Nebula Award, the American SF community are also eager to read what these writers have to say. Domestically, writers of the Chinese diaspora envision their own futures that are not concerned as much with China as a nation. In this course, therefore, we will read a selection of recently published SF short stories by contemporary Chinese writers, as well as stories by prominent Chinese-American writers (about 100 pages per week).
Since this is a composition class, expect to write a lot and frequently. In addition to keeping a regular reading journal, you will also need to write several short (350 words) reading responses, as well as two somewhat longer (1000 words) essays. The course grade will be based on the quality of the ideas you explore in your writing, your participation in class discussions, and your preparation.
We will read a selection of short stories from the following collections:
- Ed. Ken Liu, Invisible Planets (2016, ISBN 978–0765384195, Tor Books)
- Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others (2016, ISBN 978–1101972120, Vintage)
- Ken Liu, The Paper Menagerie (2016, ISBN 978–1481424363, Saga Press)
While ebooks are excellent for pleasure reading, they do not work well for literature classes, where we often need to quickly switch between several different places in the text, as well as to have other students in the class easily find the same locations. For this class, please try to get the paper copies of the books. They are all available at UW Bookstore and other book sellers.
Full syllabus can be found in Pages ⇒ Syllabus.