Monks, Masters and Magicians - Religion in Pre-modern Chinese Literature - Fall 2019 - Dr. Marcus Bingenheimer
(Monks, Masters and Magicians FA19)

“Monks, Masters and Magicians – Religion in Pre-modern Chinese Literature” offers an introduction into the rich heritage of Chinese literature before 1911 with a focus on religious culture. We will follow Buddhist nuns and monks, Daoist masters and Confucian scholars on their adventures through 2000 years of Chinese history. Thematically, the class will focus on texts that show how Chinese religious traditions (Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism) were depicted in secular literature, but will also include narrative religious texts. From 3th century miracle tales, via drama to the classical novels of the Ming and Qing dynasty, we will look at Chinese religion through the lens of literature. Next to the readings themselves we will cover more general aspects such as the relationship of literature to historical facts and notions of genre and motif as they apply to China.

We will read the texts in English. Although no previous knowledge of Chinese is assumed for this class, students with Chinese skills will receive help and guidance in accordance with their level of proficiency, if they are inclined to work with the texts in the original.


Victor H. Mair: The Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature. Columbia University Press, 1996.