Fall 2021 - HUM 203 D100

Great Texts: Asian Thought and Literature (3)

Class Number: 5532

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    WMC 2260, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 17, 2021
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    AQ 5008, Burnaby



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 and differences often amounted to degrees or matters of emphasis rather than 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 searching for ways of contributing to a better future for all of us. No prior knowledge is required. We will start from the beginning.


  • Canvas discussion 10%
  • Attendance 5%
  • Participation 5%
  • Paper Proposal 15%
  • Paper (1500-2000 words) 30%
  • Reflection Paper 10%
  • Final Exam 25%


*Late assignments will be accepted with 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.



Ames, Roger and Henry Rosemont Jr. The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation. New York: Balantine, 2010.

Watson, Burton, trans. Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings. New York: Columbia U. Press, 1996.

Watson, Burton, trans. Han Fei Tzu: Basic Writings. New York: Columbia U. Press, 2003.

Watson, Burton, trans. Hsun Tzu: Basic Writings. New York: Columbia U. Press, 2003.

Watson, Burton, trans. Mo Tzu: Basic Writings. New York: Columbia U. Press, 2003.

Registrar Notes:


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Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

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Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.