Reading Notes


At the beginning of the first class of Weeks 2 though 10 students will turn in reading notes. Notes will be graded on a good/satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. Each week's notes should address at least one of the previous week's primary readings (you are welcome to prepare separate notes on more than one) and contain at least the following:





1. Rescuing One of the Girls, by Guan Hanqing, a "variety play" (zaju) from the late 13th or early 14th century.

2. "Some women love to be dancehall girls, / and some love to be mistresses. / Ladies who run a household / throw tantrums for nothing at all; / we are merchants of illusion, with an eye / to earn interest on our capital— / but if one of us gets married, / soon she comes to feel / the jab behind the feint."

3. The main character Zhao Pan'er sings this song in the first act of the play, and it sets up the basic problem the whole play is about, that is, the options open to women and the choices they have to make in their lives. She sets up a contrast between "dancehall girls" like herself and respectable "ladies who run a household." What's interesting about it is that she doesn't seem to think that one is better than the other, or maybe she doesn't think that either one is a completely positive option. Working girls are manipulative, but so are the ladies who "throw tantrums for nothing at all." And she seems to be saying that working girls who manage to get married are in for a disappointment. I'd have to say she has a pretty cynical attitude about women's lives overall. Is this the author's point of view, or just an attitude he's putting into the mouth of this character?


These notes would get a "satisfactory" mark. This is just one example; your own notes may be quite different in style and content. The reading notes are intended to help you master the material for the exams, and to give you the chance to interact with the texts. Make good use of them. Respond to whatever you find engaging about the readings: make your notes interesting to yourself and to the instructor who will be reading them!