CHIN 137. Senior Seminar: Love & Illusion in Dream of the Red Chamber

CHIN137: Love and Illusion
in Dream of the Red Chamber

Spring 2023
Professor Ridgway

Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:40-3:55 pm; Location: Kohlberg Hall 114

The Dream of the Red Chamber (Honglou meng), also known as The Story of the Stone (Shitou ji), is generally considered to be the
greatest masterpiece of traditional Chinese vernacular fiction. Conceived and substantially completed by Cao Xueqin (early 18th c.)
the Dream's scope includes characters from virtually every class and profession. It represents practically all genres of literary
performance in its pages and abounds in descriptions of social practice and daily life in late imperial China-such as, of clothing and
rules of etiquette, buildings, gardens, plays, poetic games, culinary delicacies, medical prescriptions, fortune telling, festivals, and
liturgical rites. Paradoxically, it is the concrete experience of a richly materialistic world that grounds the novel's dreamlike quality
and the Buddhist allegory that passion, thought, and life itself are all illusory This is the setting in which Jia Baoyu, the scion to the
powerful Jia family, comes to maturity, forms close bonds of sentiment with his female cousins and servants, and rebels against the
expectations of the Confucian patriarchal system. In this course we will explore the world of The Dream of the Red Chamber through
the novel's entire 120 chapters along with two major modern television adaptations by China's CCTV first aired in 1987 and in 2007.
This course will focus in particular on the issues of literary dreams and traditional Chinese dream theory, the incorporation of
multiple genres (poetic, narrative, dramatic) in the novel, and gender and the role of women in the novel.
1 credit.
Spring 2023. Ridgway.
Catalog chapter: Modern Languages and Literatures: Chinese  
Department website:

Access the class schedule to search for sections.

Print-Friendly Page (opens a new window)