Antje Richter's Website

On this page you find information on some of the courses I teach at CU Boulder, lower and upper division undergraduate courses as well as graduate seminars. If you have questions about my courses, please feel free to email me.

CHIN 1051 Masterpieces of Chinese Literature in Translation                       

This course introduces the main literary traditions of China from the beginnings in the 2nd millennium B.C.E. to the 19th century, presented in English translations arranged in largely chronological order. Reading and discussing Chinese literature, we are confronted with a broad spectrum of subject matters, styles, and genres: apart from poetry, various genres of fictional prose, and drama we also encounter seemingly non-literary texts such as philosophical essays and historical chronicles. The format of this class includes short lectures that provide historical and cultural background information as well as discussions about the reading assignments and related issues.

CHIN 3351 Reality & Dream in Traditional Chinese Literature

The course aims at an understanding of dreams and dreaming as a significant literary topic in ancient China. This focus provides a perspective on Chinese literature that is not as fragmentary as one might expect, because dreams and dreaming are surprisingly pervasive in major Chinese texts. We critically read, interpret, discuss, and write about the dreamscapes in philosophical, religious, medical, and historical writings as well as in poetry, fictional prose, and drama, all of them presented in English translations. Dreams being such a universal literary topic worldwide and through the ages, we also connect our findings to selected non-Chinese perceptions of dreams in literature, religion, and psychology. The questions we are discussing will be of a similarly broad range as the texts they are derived from: What did dreams mean to the ancient Chinese? What was assumed to cause dreams? Were they regarded as part of or rather as a counterpart to reality? Did the Chinese in antiquity dream different dreams than we do today? To what degree are dreams shaped by culture? This class largely consists of discussions, but also includes short lectures as well as presentations by students.

CHIN 3361 Women & the Supernatural in Chinese Literature

In this course, we explore the relationship between the worlds of women and the supernatural in pre-modern Chinese literature and thought. After a short theoretical introduction of the two main topics—the idea of the supernatural and the position of women in China—we critically read, discuss, and write about selected works from imperial China (mostly 3rd to 18th century C.E.), all provided in English translations. The readings come from various genres (ballads, stories, and drama) and are diverse in subject matter. We are meeting ghost lovers, animal spirits, celestial wives, filial daughters, fox fairies, superwomen, and cross-dressers; we will follow their feats and fates, observing how they are treated by their almost exclusively male authors. This class will largely consist of discussions about our readings, but will also include lectures providing historical and literary background as well as presentations by students.

CHIN 4220 Readings in Classical Chinese

This course develops students' proficiency to read texts in Classical Chinese (Gu Hanyu) and Literary Chinese (Wenyan), to translate them into English, and interpret them. Focusing on medieval literature (ca. first to ninth century CE), we will read selected texts in poetry and prose, covering a wide spectrum of genres from Old Style poems and quatrains to anecdotes, historical records, prefaces, and accounts of the strange. Since our close reading of the texts will combine a philological approach with the consideration of their cultural background and an appreciation of their literary qualities, this is also a course on "Masterpieces of Chinese literature" in the original language. In that regard, the format of this course will resemble a graduate seminar rather than a language course.
Requirements: CHIN 4210, or instructor consent.


CHIN 5010 Sinological Methods

What is Sinology and how to become a successful member of this scholarly community? These are the two main questions that drive this graduate seminar. It will help you to identify, locate, evaluate, and use primary sources, reference materials, and secondary literature (in print & digital) in a range of Sinological fields from literature to history, art, religion, and the sciences. It will also help you to develop skills in scholarly presentation and writing, from the choice of topics to structure, annotation, and citation. All our activities will be embedded in reflections on Sinology—both as a historically grown intellectual discipline and as our own individual pursuit. The seminar will consist of lectures, exercises, discussions, and students' presentations.

CHIN 5330 Chinese Literary Thought

Knowledge of indigenous critical approaches to literature is necessary to gain a deeper understanding of Chinese literary history. In this seminar, we are studying major developments in the history of pre-modern Chinese literary thought and their relevance in Chinese intellectual history, aiming at both an overview of the field and the in-depth study and close reading of early medieval core texts. These are quite diverse in character and form, as Chinese literary and critical thought found expression in a broad spectrum of genres from rhapsody to poem, letter, or essay. Our readings will come from Wen xuan (by authors such as Cao Pi, Cao Zhi, Lu Ji, and Xiao Tong), Wenxin diaolong (in particular the chapters "Shen si," "Yang qi," "Li ci," "Xu zhi"), and a variety of other texts. Exploring these texts, many of of which have become influential parts of the literary canon, we will reflect on key issues in literary thought, Chinese as well as Western, such as imagination and literary creativity, canon formation, genre, imagery, reader response, translation, etc. This part of our inquiry will also take important Western approaches to literary thought into account.

CHIN 5480 Topics in Medieval Literature: Accounts of the Strange

This graduate seminar is an introduction to a literary genre that emerged and flourished in Early Medieval China, and proved to be of lasting importance and influence for the rest of Chinese literary history as well. Plots, literary figures, and motifs of traditional zhiguai and chuanqi narratives have remained popular in China up to the present day and keep on inspiring modern literature, film, and new media. We will read, translate, and discuss selected pieces of the genre, starting from the first large collection, Gan Bao's (fl. 317–322) Soushen ji and going on to Tang dynasty tales collected in the Taiping guangji (978) and elsewhere, supported by readings in Western and Chinese scholarship.

While the exploration of "Accounts of the Strange" touches upon a broad range of questions—historical, anthropological, religious, gender, etc.—our main approach will be literary and, to a certain degree, comparative. Reading these texts with a focus on their narrative features will help us delineate this heterogeneous genre, a fascinating hybrid between history and fiction.

CHIN 5480 Topics in Medieval Literature: Wang Xizhi – Calligraphy and Beyond

In this seminar, we explore the oeuvre and legacy of Wang Xizhi (ca. 303–361). We will read texts ascribed to Wang (the famous "Lanting ji xu" as well as personal letters) along with historical records and anecdotes about him, and members of his family, in texts such as Shishuo xinyu, "Lunshu biao," Jin shu, etc. Reading and analysing these texts will not only help us to situate Wang Xizhi—and Wang Xizhi lore—in the context of fourth-century Southern China, it will also lead us to ponder and discuss issues that are of relevance throughout Chinese literary and intellectual history: from genre questions to the nature of anecdotes, the role of calligraphy, the problem of copying, notions of friendship, the relationship between political engagement and reclusion, and the communication of illness.
This seminar does not require previous experience with Chinese calligraphy.

CHIN 5410 Medieval Prose: Early Buddhist Literature in China

This seminar is designed as an introduction to Buddhist literature in medieval China. We will focus on two seminal texts and their reverberations in Chinese literature and culture: the Vimalakīrti sūtra and the Lotus sūtra, chosen for their prominent status among East Asian Buddhist scriptures and for their narrative finesse. We will read these key scriptures (partly in different Chinese translations) as well as excerpts of other Buddhist texts in a spectrum of genres, among them treatises, hagiographies, miracle tales, and travelogues. We will discuss a variety of issues: basic doctrines of Mahāyāna Buddhism and their reception in medieval Chinese poetry and prose, features of early Chinese vernacular as apparent in early Buddhist scriptures, and translation practices in medieval China. Our main focus will be on the literary qualities of these religious texts and on the question of how we are supposed to interpret their narratives of sex change, interplanetary travel, time lords, and other wonders. Based on readings of an inspiring and varied body of scholarship, our discussions will touch upon matters of philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, transculturality, gender, art history, and material culture.