Fall 2023 - HUM 203 D300

Great Texts: Asian Thought and Literature (3)

Class Number: 7861

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Oct 6, 2023: Tue, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

    Oct 11 – Dec 5, 2023: Tue, 2:30–5:20 p.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.


Sun Wen Red Chamber


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. 


This course also aims to develop the following critical skills:  

  • 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 Participation 20%
  • Tutorial discussion & Canvas post (3) 15%
  • Cultural Project & Presentation (group) 20%
  • Mid term (short essay questions) 20%
  • Final Essay (1500 words) 25%


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



Cao Xueqin and Gao E, translated by David Hawkes and John Minford, The Story of the Stone, Vols. 1 & 5. Penguin Books. ISBN: 978-0140442939 & 978-0140443721
(Other readings will be posted on Canvas)


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.