Historical Epics of China and Japan

SAME AS G33.1726

Comparative treatment of the two major military epics of China, Three Kingdoms and Outlaws of the Marsh (Sanguo yanyi and Shuihu zhuan), and the major military epic of Japan, The Tale of the Heike (Heike monogatari). Themes: nature of dynastic rule, qualifications for kingship, relation of civil to military authority, diplomatic and military strategies, and the roles of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism in these complex narratives.

Involves in-depth study of the major epics of China, Japan, and Vietnam?the historical-military and the social-romantic. The Chinese historical epic Three Kingdoms is read against the Japanese epic Tale of the Heike. Emphasis is placed on the political nature of the dynastic state form, the types of legitimacy and the forms of rebellion, the process of breakdown and reintegration of an imperial house, the empire as dynasty and as territory, and the range of characterology. In the second half of the course, the Chinese classic Dream of the Red Chamber is read against the Japanese Tale of Genji. In addition to the above-mentioned topics, attention is given to the role of women and marriage in a governing elite, the modalities of social criticism in a novel of manners. The Vietnamese national classic Tale of Kieu is used as an introduction to the course because it combines all of the key topics. Finally, we pay particular attention to the ways in which Buddhist, Daoist, and Confucian doctrines function in each work.

Course Information



4 Points

Term Section Instructor Schedule Location

Spring 2018

Moss Roberts
TR: 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM SILV 401