ASIA 514B: China Vice: The Literature of Criminality

2016W Term 2 Instructor: Christopher Rea (chris.rea@ubc)
Class meetings: To be scheduled; email Dr Rea for details.

Murderers, thieves, swindlers, spies, sex offenders, gangsters, and political criminals: China can be a dangerous place, if the stories are to be believed. Fortunately, magistrates, police officers, consulting detectives, public security officers, counter-espionage agents, and good Samaritans have been there to protect us. How have tales of criminality and justice been told in modern China? What types of criminals have obsessed Chinese writers and readers, and which crime genres have been most popular? This graduate seminar will focus on the vast Chinese literature of criminality: court case fiction, swindle stories, and judicial crime reports of the late imperial period; detective and scandal fiction of Republican China; tales of spies and political espionage of the Mao era; contemporary trends in fiction, film, and popular media, and more. Vice has proven irresistible to storytellers and audiences across the world, provoking moral reflections while offering vicarious thrills. When it comes to crime, what’s the China story? This seminar is open to students with no reading knowledge of Chinese.