Fall 2020 - HUM 203 D100

Great Texts: Asian Thought and Literature (3)

Class Number: 7534

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 10:00 AM – 12:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    30 units.



An introduction to classic texts which have endured as monuments of Asian thought and literature. Readings and discussions of primary texts and their central ideas will introduce students to philosophical, literary and religious themes in a selected, major Asian tradition. Breadth-Humanities.


This course will introduce The Story of the Stone (also known as Dream of the Red Chamber), an 18th century novel which has the same iconic status as Shakespeare’s dramatic works in Chinese literary history and has greatly influenced Chinese minds.  It is also a great sourcebook for learning about different aspects of Chinese culture, from the family system and social relations to garden, poetry and religion, all of which find their most vivid manifestations in the novel.

Thus the course has a dual purpose: one is to introduce a master work of Chinese literature and its distinctive literary tradition; the other is to introduce aspects of Chinese civilization through the novel.

The study method is a combination of close reading, class discussions, and lectures in which some important philosophical, cultural and aesthetic themes of the novel will be introduced. In order to understand some of the religious/philosophical themes such as Confucianism, Taoism, and enlightenment, we will also read translations of Zhuang Zi and Confucian writings throughout the course.
This course is for students who wish to learn about Chinese culture through interesting and accessible translated texts.


  • Improve close-reading skills and analyze literary texts to academic standards
  • Locate literary works in their historical and cultural contexts
  • Demonstrate a reasonable understanding of the material and engage in group discussions towards bettering that understanding
  • Do research on specific topics using a variety of sources and presenting it effectively
  • Write essays and assignments that demonstrate organization, coherence, and grammatical correctness    


  • Attendance and Class Discussions 20%
  • Canvas Discussion (5 posts and best post) 20%
  • Cultural Project & Presentation 20%
  • Book Review 15%
  • Final Exercise 25%


Please note that almost all teaching at SFU in Fall 2020 will be conducted through remote methods. Enrollment in this course acknowledges that remote instruction may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of receiving feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. Humanities 203 features a mix of synchronous and

asynchronous activities. Lectures will be delivered weekly most weeks synchronously, and students will be expected to engage in live activities with the instructor and each other for approximately two hours per week for most weeks of the semester.



Cao Xueqin and Gao E, translated by David Hawkes and John Minford, The Story of the Stone Vol. 1. Penguin Books.
ISBN: 978-0140442939

Cao Xueqin and Gao E, translated by David Hawkes and John Minford, The Story of the Stone Vol. 5. Penguin Books.
ISBN: 978-0140443721

Other readings will be posted on Canvas HUM203

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).