Fall 2023 - HUM 203 D200

Great Texts: Asian Thought and Literature (3)

Class Number: 4534

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Wed, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 8, 2023
    Fri, 8:30–11:30 a.m.



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.


The Warring States (Zhànguó 戰國) period (475-221), in the region we now refer to as China, was one of gradual descent into social and political instability, and of suffering and privation for many.

This turmoil proved fertile ground for a new class of intellectuals and political activists who sought ways to resolve injustices and violence. It has been customary to divide these individuals, conveniently, into abstract “schools” (jiā 家) such as Daoism, Legalism, Confucianism, and Mo’ism. The reality, though, is not so clear; scholars shared basic cultural assumptions, while differences often in degree or emphasis rather than based upon absolute distinctions.

This seminar series will not look at a list of “schools” but instead at a collection of texts from the Warring States period. It will be up to us to determine what ideals and ideas they shared, and to assess how exactly they differed and why. Much time will be dedicated to discussion and debates so that each of us can consider the merits and weaknesses of the positions described in the texts. We will also think about how these ideas might relate to current challenges faced by humanity in general, and to each of us as individuals engaged in the process of growing as human beings in search of ways to contribute to a better future for all of us. While the presentation of ideas will employ text in both English and Classical Chinese, no knowledge of Chinese is required. We will start from the beginning, assuming nobody has prior knowledge in this field.


  • Canvas Discussion 10%
  • Attendance 5%
  • Paper Proposal 15%
  • Paper (1,500-2,000 words) 30%
  • Reflection Paper (500 words) 10%
  • Participation 5%
  • Final Exam 25%


 *Late assignments will be accepted with prior permission from the instructor on a case-by-case basis. If late submission is approved, a 2% penalty per day is incurred until the assignment is submitted. 

This course counts towards a concentration in Art and Material Culture or Mythologies for students in a Humanities major or minor program as well as the Religious Studies Certificate.



Ames, Roger and Henry Rosemont Jr. The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation. New York: Balantine, 2010. ISBN 13: ISSBN 10: 0-345-43407-2

Watson, Burton, trans. Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings. New York: Columbia U. Press, 1996. ISBN-13: 978-0-231-10595-8

Watson, Burton, trans. Han Fei Tzu: Basic Writings. New York: Columbia U. Press, 2003. ISBN-13: ‎978-0-231-08609-7

Watson, Burton, trans. Hsun Tzu: Basic Writings. New York: Columbia U. Press, 2003. ISBN-13:978-0-231-10689-4

Watson, Burton, trans. Mo Tzu: Basic Writings. New York: Columbia U. Press, 2003. ISBN-13:978-0-231-08608-0


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.