• Class Number 6525
  • Term Code 3360
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Topic Chinese Philosophy
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Esther Klein
    • Dr Esther Klein
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/07/2023
  • Class End Date 27/10/2023
  • Census Date 31/08/2023
  • Last Date to Enrol 31/07/2023
SELT Survey Results

This course covers a selection of advanced readings in Literary Chinese. Each semester, students study a different type of Literary Chinese text, including historiography, excavated texts, anecdotal literature, legal documents, poetry, and Buddhist Chinese. Students read prescribed texts in class. They receive tuition in the vocabulary, grammar, and syntax specific to each type of text and register of Literary Chinese. Students also discuss the contextual information necessary for appreciation of the texts under study; and practise using a range of Sinological research tools to discover and interpret such information. 

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Hypothesise on, analyse, and appraise vocabulary used in different types of Literary Chinese text, with the use of specialist dictionaries.
  2. Identify and analyse the grammar and sentence structures evident in different advanced Literary Chinese texts; and consider their contributions to stylistic and other effects.
  3. Analyse linguistic registers used in texts written in complex, often technical, forms of Literary Chinese and reproduce them in appropriate registers of English.
  4. Use commentaries to assess different readings of the text at hand, supporting translations with an understanding of commentarial techniques and vocabulary.
  5. Produce a creative response to the text through the composition of a critical apparatus and a detailed analysis of textual references and literary allusions, through the use of reference tools specific to the type of text at hand; and develop an appreciation of the text in its relevant social, intellectual, and cultural contexts.

Research-Led Teaching

Parts of this course, including the assessments, will require participants to conduct their own research. Existing research on the materials under study is often far from conclusive; different approaches and in-depth analysis may yield new results.

Required Resources

Students will be supplied with copies of the primary texts, as well as supplementary research tools. These will appear on Wattle. They will also be distributed in hard copy in class, if necessary. Lists of relevant contextual readings will also be posted on Wattle. Students must have access to suitable dictionaries of Literary Chinese. The course convenor will be happy to offer recommendations.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Course introduction: Who and what is Zhuangzi?
2 Heaven and humans Presentations
3 Humans and animals Presentations
4 Confucius, Yan Hui, and fasting the mind Presentations; Translation comparison assignment set
5 Zhuangzi translations Presentations; Translation comparison assignment due
6 Skill stories Presentations
7 Useless trees Presentations; Intertextuality assignment set
8 Dilemmas / Zhuangzi intertextuality Presentations; Intertextuality assignment due
9 Learning and knowledge Presentations
10 The Way Presentations; Final project set
11 Charisma and authenticity Presentations
12 Life and death Presentations

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Class preparation exercises 15 % 28/07/2023 * 1, 2, 3
Presentations and peer feedback 15 % * * 1, 2, 3, 4
Translation comparison assignment 20 % 21/08/2023 04/09/2023 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Intertextuality assignment 20 % 25/09/2023 09/10/2023 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Final project 30 % 02/11/2023 16/11/2023 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 28/07/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3

Class preparation exercises

Each week, students will be expected to prepare and submit written translations of the texts set for that week. The aim is to give students a sense of the reasoned, rather than purely reactive, decisions that scholars and translators have to make when faced with new textual material. Written preparation will enable students to compare their solutions to textual and translation problems with those proposed as a class.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 15 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

Presentations and peer feedback

Each week, students will be asked to make a brief individual presentation on one passage from the readings as well as give active feedback on the presentations of others. These presentations will include sharing the student's own translation, a discussion of difficult vocabulary, grammar, or concepts, and a bit of context from commentary, related primary texts, and/or secondary scholarship. When not presenting, students will be expected to contribute in an active and constructive manner to the discussion of other students' presentations, including engaging in textual analysis and translation, as well as to general discussion. Due dates will vary between Monday or Friday of each week.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 21/08/2023
Return of Assessment: 04/09/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Translation comparison assignment

Students will be assigned an unseen passage in Literary Chinese and asked to produce their own annotated English translation together with a critical discussion of other published translations and interpretations in secondary scholarship. This will help familiarise students with some of the basic first steps in approaching a difficult but well-known philosophical text and help build some of the skills needed for the final project.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 25/09/2023
Return of Assessment: 09/10/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Intertextuality assignment

Students will compare a passage from the Zhuangzi with one or more related passages from other texts, including an annotated translation of both/all passages from Literary Chinese into English and a brief discussion of the intertextual connections as well as contrasts between/among the passages.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 02/11/2023
Return of Assessment: 16/11/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Final project

Students will tackle and issue or question relating to the philosophy of Zhuangzi, through the translation, annotation, and analysis of one or more passages from the Zhuangzi and (if appropriate) another early Chinese philosophical text. A critical introduction to the problem and the resources used to discuss it should accompany the translation and analysis. This introduction might include:

1) an analysis of the problem being addessed, and an attempt to contextualise this problem within the broad context of ancient Chinese philosophy;

2) a brief reconstruction of the content of the assigned text, as well as an account of relevant background information;

3) personal critical engagement with any problems of translation and analysis deemed significant.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Course participants will receive their take-home translations via email with in-text and final comments at the end of their text (using track-changes). These comments should be looked at in detail because they will be useful for the subsequent final translation assignment.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

Only with prior consent by the course convenor.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Dr Esther Klein

Research Interests

Chinese philosophy, ancient Chinese historical narrative, gender in ancient China

Dr Esther Klein

Monday 14:00 15:00
Monday 14:00 15:00
Dr Esther Klein

Research Interests

Chinese philosophy, ancient Chinese historical narrative, gender in ancient China

Dr Esther Klein

Monday 14:00 15:00
Monday 14:00 15:00

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions