Literary Chinese is a written language that matured long before the Qin dynasty (221-206 B.C.), when China first became an empire. It continued to be used by China's governing and elite cultures for nearly three millennia. A command of Literary Chinese is therefore indispensable for the study of any aspect of Chinese literature, thought, history, politics, or society before the twentieth century.
The idioms, syntax, style, and allusions of Literary Chinese continue to pervade the modern language. Its enduring influence results from the fact that the great legacies of Chinese culture, right down to the present day, have been largely preserved in this medium. Contemporary Chinese political and social discourse, and education, place increasing emphasis on knowledge of pre-modern Chinese culture and on familiarity with texts written in Literary Chinese. So without a grounding in Literary Chinese, it is impossible to gain a full understanding of the language or content of newspaper articles, literary works, and scholarly prose written in contemporary Taiwan, Hong Kong, and mainland China. Texts written in Literary Chinese have also shaped the linguistic and cultural traditions of Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.
The Literary Chinese Minor offers a way into these rich worlds, past and present, through their primary sources. It begins with an introduction to the main sentence patterns and grammatical features of texts from the pre-Qin (before 221 BC) and Han (206 BC to 220 AD) periods. It expands its focus to texts from different periods of the imperial era. It culminates with close study of the registers of language specific to a range of different types of text. Throughout, the focus is on philological translation. The Minor therefore introduces students to the Sinological reference tools and the contextual knowledge necessary for a full appreciation of the texts under study.
Entry requirements for the Minor
Students who wish to enter the Minor will be required to take a language proficiency assessment to demonstrate knowledge of the Chinese script as well as the basic grammar and structures of the written language at a level of competence equivalent to the learning outcomes of CHIN2023 or JPNS3002.
Hypothesise on, analyse, and appraise vocabulary used in different types of Literary Chinese texts, with the use of general and specialist dictionaries.
- Identifyand analyse the grammar and sentence structures evident in Literary Chinesetexts from pre-imperial and imperial times; and consider their contributions tostylistic and other effects.
- Analyselinguistic registers used in texts written in complex forms of Literary Chineseand reproduce them in appropriate registers of English.
- Usecommentaries to assess different readings of the text at hand, supportingtranslations with an understanding of commentarial techniques and vocabulary.
- Produce acreative response to the text through the composition of a critical apparatusand a detailed analysis of textual references and literary allusions, throughthe use of reference tools specific to the type of text at hand; and develop anappreciation of the text in its relevant social, intellectual, and culturalcontexts.
Students with previous “language experience or exposure” are required to take a language proficiency assessment to ensure enrolment at the most appropriate level.
Relevant past experience includes:
- Previous study of the language (both formal and informal, for example but not limited to, at school, or, home, or through online activities, etc.)
- Being exposed to the language in childhood via a family member or friend
- Travel or living in a country where the language is spoken
- The language being spoken in your home (even if you do not speak it yourself)
Students who are not sure if they need to take a proficiency assessment should seek advice from the course or language convenor.
Students who intentionally misrepresent their language proficiency level may be investigated under the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 as having failed to comply with assessment directions and having sought unfair advantage. This may results in a penalty such as reduced grades or failure of the course.
Students are not permitted to enrol in a language course below one that they have already successfully completed, except with permission of the language and/or course convenor.
Areas of Interest
- Asian Languages
- Translation Studies
- Asia Pacific Studies
- Language Studies
- Asia-Pacific Studies
This minor requires the completion of 24 units, which must include:
24 units from the completion of the following course(s):
CHIN2019 Literary Chinese 1 (6 units)
CHIN2021 Literary Chinese 2 (6 units)
CHIN3015 Advanced Literary Chinese* (6 units - please refer to note below about enrollment requirements for this course)
*Advanced Literary Chinese (CHIN3015) is offered each semester with a focus on different types of texts. Topics include Anecdotal Literature, Historiography, Buddhism, Philosophy, and Excavated texts. To complete the minor, students need to enrol in CHIN3015 at least twice and ensure that they are studying a different topic each time.Back to the top