ASIAN 251 - Undergraduate Seminar in Chinese Culture
Winter 2017, Section 001 - The Happiness of the Fish: Early Daoist Themes
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: Asian Studies (ASIAN)
Department: LSA Asian Languages & Cultures
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Requirements & Distribution:
FYSem, WorldLit
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
No knowledge of Chinese language is required.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


This class mainly focuses on a famous classical Chinese text, the Zhuangzi. Written in a humorous style, filled with fables, inside jokes, and metaphors, the work later came to be considered as one of the foundational texts of Daoism. Despite its jocular style of writing, the work touches on themes that are fundamental to the human condition. These include: the distinction between good and bad, human and nonhuman, and life and death. As different characters grapple through these questions, they also simultaneously reflect on the most crucial question of all: how to live with joy in a world that is full of adversity.

In order to give context, we will complement the text with several other classical works that later came to be considered as parts of the classical Daoist canon. As we discuss both the similarities and the differences between these works, we will also discuss what the word “Daoist,” as an umbrella term, conveys and conceals in this context.

Class Format:

Two 90-minute meetings weekly


ASIAN 251 - Undergraduate Seminar in Chinese Culture
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
1/4/17 - 4/18/17

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