Constant, violent warfare characterized the “Three Kingdoms” period (220-280 CE), as valiant men exhausted their wits and their strength in an ultimate battle to make their kingdom – Wei, Shu, or Wu – the legitimate successor of the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE). Stories of this period have captured the imagination of people – in China and throughout East Asia – for almost two millennia, in the pages of novels, on the theatrical stage, in shrines, and in oral storytelling. The past several decades, through translations, films, and gaming, have seen an international explosion of interest in these stories.
This course seeks to answer two questions: First, what makes this story endure? And, second, how does it transform as it moves through time and space, and across media? We’ll attempt to answer these questions through critical engagement with what is called China’s first novel, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguo yanyi, ca. 1522), as well as with supplementary texts that include both academic (criticism, commentary, theory) and popular (fan websites, card games, collectibles) materials.
- Participation/Quizzes 20%
- Reading Journal or Reading Groups 30%
- Critical Essays 20% (Two assignments, 10% each)
- Final Project 30%
This is an upper-level undergraduate course, students are expected to have some familiarity with both China and college-level literary inquiry.
To receive graduate credit, you will need to undertake research in Chinese language sources and complete a seminar paper (25 pp.) at the end of the course in lieu of the final project.
Two 90-minute meetings weekly