The Story of the Stone (also known as The Dream of the Red Chamber) by Cao Xueqin (1715?-1763) is widely recognized as the masterpiece of Chinese fiction. It is also a portal to Chinese civilization. Encyclopedic in scope, this book both sums up Chinese culture and asks of it difficult questions. Its cult status also accounts for modern popular screen and television adaptations. Through a close examination of this text in conjunction with supplementary readings and visual materials, the seminar will explore a series of topics on Chinese culture, including foundational myths, philosophical and religious systems, the status of fiction, conceptions of art and the artist, ideas about love, desire and sexuality, gender roles, garden aesthetics, family and clan structure, and definitions of socio-political order.
This seminar explores the construction and complexity of identities in the Greek tradition (300-1500). Students will read fascinating narratives, biographies, and autobiographies, and will learn how to analyze them from historical and literary perspectives. Questions for discussion include political, religious, and ethnic identity in late antiquity and Byzantium, the meaning of being "Roman" and "Greek," the plasticity of self-representation, and the interpretation of religion, gender, and class as both social and cultural categories.... Read more about Identity and the Self in the Medieval Greek Tradition