ASIAN 480 - Topics in Asian Studies
Winter 2019, Section 001 - Scandalous Fiction: Jin Ping Mei and Everyday Life in Early Modern China
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Asian Studies (ASIAN)
Department: LSA Asian Languages & Cultures
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Waitlist Capacity:
May be elected four times for credit. May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:


This course will introduce students to the controversial masterpiece of Chinese fiction, Plum in a Golden Vase (Jin Ping Mei). Censored and banned for its explicit sexual content, this sensational narrative—weaving together poems, vernacular songs, and drama—had a profound impact on the development of Chinese literature. Regarded as one of the first major novels anywhere in the world, Plum in a Golden Vase shifts attention away from mythical heroes to examine the everyday exploits and desires of ordinary people. The product of an anonymous author, Plum in a Golden Vase revels in sensory excess (greed, murder, intoxication, and lust) and the vivid details of Chinese urban life.

We will focus on developing skills in close-reading, while using this monumental five-volume work to survey the flourishing cultural world of early modern China. The course will explore how Plum in a Golden Vase reflects and responds to a period of unprecedented upheaval in commerce, philosophy, fashion, and art. Our discussions will situate the novel alongside recent scholarship on gender and sexuality, the body, material culture, and performance. The course will also make extensive use of the collections of the University of Michigan Museum of Art. Students will gain an appreciation of the Chinese novel and its dynamic relationship to the cultural history of early modern China. Along the way, we will reflect on the power of fiction to shock, offend, and ultimately change the way we see ourselves.


ASIAN 480 - Topics in Asian Studies
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
Tu 6:00PM - 9:00PM
1/9/19 - 4/23/19
002 (SEM)
WF 2:10PM - 3:40PM
1/9/19 - 4/23/19
Note: "Making Places in Seoul: History of Urbanism and Development" is offered by Ohio State University Professor Pil-Ho Kim ( This course is offered to U-M students through the Korean Studies e-School coordinated by the Nam Center for Korean Studies.

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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