What is the relationship between literary texts and "books"? How did people read before the advent of print, and in what forms/contexts did this reading take place? How does the format of a text shape the "message" that text conveys? How have new forms of media, such as digital technologies and the internet, changed how literature is understood and consumed? And how did all of these questions play out in the history of Chinese literature, specifically?
This course takes these questions as a starting point to examine the relationship between Chinese literary writing and the media forms in which this writing has circulated over time. The course is divided into three chronological units, based around the following core topics: (I) the material cultures of writing and reading in premodern China; (II) the advent of print and early modern Chinese textual cultures; and (III) forms of new media in modern Chinese literature. We begin each unit by studying some key methodological approaches to Chinese literature and its media forms. We then take up specific texts, examples, and case studies that explore the range of Chinese literary media. For the purposes of this course, the terms "literature," "media," and "text" are all broadly defined. Indeed, a primary goal of this course is to work toward a concept of Chinese literature that takes issues of media, such as materiality, circulation, reading habits, and the process of writing into account.