Anti-Heroes in Modern Chinese Literature
This course introduces students to the image of anti-heroes in modern Chinese literature, a counter-tradition endemic to the heroic discourse in the main stream of Confucian orthodoxy and the ideology of socialism. Through studying the literary representation of various types of anti-heroes: the aesthete, the self-abandoned, the marginal woman, the estranged, the defeated, the superfluous, the social outcast, etc., the course examines the trajectory of a modern anti-hero literature, one that was born of modern Chinese writers’ endeavor to search for an individual “self” vis-à-vis a collective identity. The course demonstrates how the sociopolitical conditions of modern China have shaped this anti-hero literature and how societal transformations have yielded value alternatives. The comparative perspective the course adopts will enable students to have a better understanding of how the literary representation of anti-heroes is historicized and contextualized. Selected films will be shown to complement and enhance such study.