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CODE 101291


The course aims to provide students with a general understanding of the history of Chinese culture and literature from the Tang dynasty (618-907) to the 20th century. It will highlight the developments in literary production in classical language up to the end of the imperial era and introduce the main cultural and literary phenomena of the 20th century. The course will also cover the major events following the fall of the empire, leading to the establishment of the Republic and, on October 1, 1949, the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC), focusing on the production and reception of cultural products and their influence on contemporary China.



The course intends to deepen themes and phases of Chinese culture in its diachronic evolution, focusing on textual production and genre varieties, highlighting links and specific traits in relation to the historical development. Through the guided reading of selected extracts in Chinese starting from the Tang era (618-907) onwards, the main cultural phenomena characterising the imperial era from the 7th century to the crucial events of the twentieth century (the fall of the last dynasty and the beginning of the republican era) will be presented. The course will also address a selection of texts produced after the establishment of the People's Republic of China and during the Cultural Revolution, paying particular attention to the language, the ideology, the historical-political context, and the relevance in the contemporary epoch.


The course aims to provide an overview of the diachronic development of Chinese culture, literary genres, and the most significant works from the 5th-6th century AD to the first half of the 20th century, both in verse and prose. This will be done through guided readings of selected works presented in Italian translation. By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Navigate the cultural and geo-linguistic landscape of imperial China from the Tang to the Qing dynasties, the early Republican period, and the People's Republic, highlighting the main peculiarities emerging from the analysis of iconographic, documentary, and material culture sources, and emphasizing the constituent elements of Chinese civilization;

  2. Read the texts in their original language presented in class and explain their contents with proper contextualization;

  3. Demonstrate the acquisition of knowledge and methodological tools necessary for analyzing the historical context in which the most mature phases of Chinese civilization developed, and be able to highlight the complex relationship between modernity and traditional civilization, emphasizing crucial themes that are still essential for understanding contemporary Chinese society;

  4. Use scientific vocabulary more familiarly to argue their reflections persuasively and effectively;

  5. Develop a functional and adaptive learning model for evaluating the complex historical and cultural phenomena of modern and contemporary China.


Frontal teaching in person. Students will also be asked to carry out guided independent activities, like reading scientific articles and watching audiovisual materials, to be later discussed (in Italian) during class workshop.  



The module consists of lectures, delivered in Italian, on the contents and themes addressed by the compulsory monographs/readings listed in the bibliography, which will be explained and analysed in-depth. Beside the wide range of selected representative texts/works, in Chinese language or in their translated version, the module makes also extensive use of multimedia and interactive materials on contemporary China. The contents are the same for both attending and non-attending students. However, non-attending students are asked to supplement the exam texts with the recommended readings indicated in the bibliography.


Mandatory texts:

  • Bertuccioli G., La letteratura cinese, Roma, L’Asino d’oro, 2013 (capp. IV-VIII).
  • Pesaro N., Pirazzoli M., La narrativa cinese del Novecento, Roma, Carocci, 2019 (Parte prima).
  • Lecture notes and selected readings provided.

Additional text for non-attending students:

  • Masi E., Cento capolavori della letteratura cinese, Macerata, Quodlibet, 2014.

One text from each of the following lists (mandatory for all students):

List 1

  • Come una piena a primavera che scorre verso oriente, Il canzoniere di Li Yu (937-978), traduzione dal cinese a cura di Luca Stirpe, Roma, Orientalia, 2015.
  • I Sette Savi del Bosco di Bambù, a cura di Giulia Baccini, Venezia, Marsilio, 2016.
  • Il laccio scarlatto, a cura di Barbara Bisetto, Venezia, Marsilio, 2010.
  • Le avventure di un ragazzo brutto, traduzione dal cinese a cura di Giovanni Vitiello, Roma, Orientalia, 2020. 
  • Lu Yu, Il canone del tè, a cura di Marco Ceresa, Macerata, Quodlibet, 2013.
  • Matteo Ricci, Descrizione della Cina, Macerata Quodlibet, 2011.
  • Shen Fu, Racconti di una fugace esistenza, Milano, Luni, 2019. 
  • Storie delle sei perfezioni, a cura di Stefano Zacchetti, Venezia, Marsilio, 2013.
  • Vita di una donna ossessionata, traduzione dal cinese a cura di Giorgio Casacchia, Roma, Orientalia, 2017.

List 2 

  • Aa. Vv., Shanghai suite, Roma, Atmosphere Libri, 2014.
  • Ba Jin, Famiglia, traduzione e postfazione di Lorenzo Andolfatto, Roma, Atmosphere Libri, 2018.
  • Lao She, Città di gatti, Milano, Mondadori, 2024.
  • Lu Xun, Esitazione, a cura di Nicoletta Pesaro, Palermo, Sellerio, 2022. 
  • Lu Xun, Grida, a cura di Nicoletta Pesaro, Palermo, Sellerio, 2021. 
  • Qian Zhongshu, Uomini Beste Demoni, Quattro racconti dal cinese, traduzione, introduzione e note a cura di Tiziana Lioi, Roma, Aracne, 2013.
  • Shen Congwen, Il vecchio e il nuovo, Roma, Nutrimenti, 2004.
  • Yu Dafu, Naufragio, traduzione dal cinese a cura di Barbara Ricci, Roma, Aracne, 2013.



Exam Board

LUCA PISANO (President)



The module will run on both the first semester and  the second semester, starting from October 2024. The class schedule will be available on EasyAcademy at the beginning of each semester.



Oral interview in Italian. The students will show their ability to relate the various topics covered in the course. During the exam (with open questions, relating to the whole program including the compulsory books and the selected texts introduced during lessons), the quality of the presentation, the correct use of the lexicon (in particular while clarifying texts of philosophical content), the critical competence will all be carefully assessed.


The students will have to demonstrate the assimilation of the main topics, to have acquired the basic knowledge of the course contents, to be able to elaborate a short speech on one or more topics, related to the compulsory monographs and/or with the selected texts introduced during the course, placing them in the Chinese and Asian historical and cultural contexts. Attendance and active participation during the lessons will facilitate the examination process.


Students who have valid certification of physical or learning disabilities on file with the University and who wish to discuss possible accommodations or other circumstances regarding lectures, coursework and exams, should speak both with the instructor and with Prof. Sara Dickinson (, the Department’s disability liaison.

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