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Chinese Culture: Transformation

  • Job DurationedX
  • Job Duration4 weeks long, 2-4 hours a week
  • Job DurationFree Online Course (Audit)

Project detail



Owing to its rapid development in recent years, China has been in the spotlight of the international arena. While understanding modern China’s economy, technology and politics is important, knowing its cultural roots and evolution is no less crucial for seeing the full picture of Chinese culture. This course introduces 5 interesting aspects of Chinese culture in transformation.

Key questions of the course

  • What are the Four Great Classical Chinese Novels? What are the stories about? Why are they so famous and influential in Chinese literature?
  • What is special about the art of Chinese operas? What are the symbolic meanings behind the face make-up, gestures and costumes? How do the operas serve as a medium for transmitting knowledge in Chinese culture?
  • Why did the private Confucian academies thrive in the Song dynasty? Why was the famous Donglin Academy suppressed by the state in the Ming dynasty? How were the private academies engaged in the state educational reforms in the late Qing dynasty?
  • How did New Confucianism emerge as a movement in the 20th century? What were the aspirations of the New Confucians? How did they address modern challenges to the development of Chinese science, democracy and cosmology? Did they succeed in modernizing Confucianism?
  • What were the traditional expectations of gender roles in China? How was gender politics heightened in the labour force in early New China? What light does the film Li Shuangshuang shed on the gender awareness of Chinese socialism?

Course Design

  • A team of 5 experts in Chinese culture has designed the course. They are, in alphabetical order, Dr Chun, Dr. Li, Dr Lin, Dr Wu and Dr Zhang.
  • The compact design of the mini-lectures suits the busy schedule of edX learners.
  • Introduction by animation hosts highlights the key questions of each unit.
  • Illustrations and maps are designed to liven up the mini-lectures.
  • Self-learning is supported by review questions and forums.
  • Cross-referencing enhances a fruitful learning experience across the units of the HKPolyUx series on Chinese culture.


The Four Great Classical Chinese Novels: A New Genre

  • Introduction
  • Outlaws of the Marsh
  • The Romance of the Three Kingdoms
  • Journey to the West
  • Dream of the Red Chamber

Chinese Operas: A Dynamic Diversity

  • Introduction
  • The aesthetics of operas
  • Various themes of the operas
  • Chinese operas and public life

Confucian Academies and Education

  • Introduction
  • Neo-Confucianism and academies in the Song dynasty
  • The case of Donglin Academy in the Ming dynasty
  • Academies and educational reforms in the Qing dynasty

New Confucianism in the 20th century

  • Introduction
  • Confucianism as a living and practical philosophy
  • Synthetic nature of Confucianism
  • New challenges to China in the 20th century
  • Feng Youlan on life’s meanings
  • Mou Zongsan on inner sageliness and outer kingliness

Gender Politics in Early New China

  • Introduction
  • Mao Zedong and new culture
  • The socialist movie Li Shuangshuang
  • Revolution, labor and gender
  • Gender politics of socialism

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