Volume TOCs and Authors9 min read

How to Read Chinese Literature


The How to Read Chinese Literature series is an innovative collection of literary anthologies and language texts covering the entire field of Chinese literature. The series will consist of ten volumes: five guided literary anthologies, one book on literary culture, and four language texts. Usable as both stand-alone volumes and a coherent set, the ten books break down barriers between the study of literature and language learning. By joining language acquisition with teaching students how to appreciate Chinese literature in its original form, the series seeks to transform learning and teaching of Chinese literature, language, and culture in the English-speaking world.


Zong-qi Cai, general editor
Yuan Xingpei, editorial board director

Columbia University Press


1. How to Read Chinese Poetry: A Guided Anthology (2008)
Edited by Zong-qi Cai


1. Tetrasyllabic Shi Poetry: The Book of Poetry (Shijing)

   William H. Nienhauser Jr. (University of Wisconsin)


2. Sao Poetry: The Lyrics of Chu (Chuci)

   Fusheng Wu (University of Utah)


3. Fu Poetry: An Ancient-Style Rhapsody (Gufu)

   David R. Knechtges (University of Washington)


4. Shi Poetry: Music Bureau Poems (Yuefu)

   Jui-Lung Su (National University of Singapore)


5. Pentasyllabic Shi Poetry: The “Nineteen Old Poems”

   Zong-Qi Cai (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)


6. Pentasyllabic Shi Poetry: Landscape and Farmstead Poems

   Wendy Swartz (Columbia University)


7. Pentasyllabic Shi Poetry: New Topics

   Xiaofei Tian (Harvard University)


8. Recent-Style Shi Poetry: Pentasyllabic Regulated Verse (Wuyan Lüshi)

    Zong-Qi Cai


9. Recent-Style Shi Poetry: Heptasyllabic Regulated Verse (Qiyan Lüshi )

   Robert Ashmore (University of California, Berkeley)


10. Recent-Style Shi Poetry: Quatrains (Jueju)

     Charles Egan (San Francisco State University)


11. Ancient-Style Shi Poetry: Continuation and Changes

    Paula Varsano (University of California, Berkeley)


12. Ci Poetry: Short Song Lyrics (Xiaoling)

    Maija Bell Samei (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)


13. Ci Poetry: Long Song Lyrics (Manci)

     Xinda Lian (Denison University)


14. Ci Poetry: Long Song Lyrics on Objects (Yongwu Ci)

     Shuen-Fu Lin (University of Michigan)


15. Shi Poetry: Ancient and Recent Styles

     Ronald Egan (University of California, Santa Barbara)


16. Qu Poetry: Song Poems (Sanqu) of the Yuan Dynasty

     Xinda Lian


17. Shi Poetry of the Ming and Qing Dynasties

    Grace S. Fong (McGill University)


18. A Synthesis: Rhythm, Syntax, and Vision of Chinese Poetry

    Zong-Qi Cai



2. How to Read Chinese Poetry Workbook (2012)
By Jie Cui and Zong-qi Cai


1. 爱情:君子情思 Love: The Voice of Men


2. 爱情:闺妇情语 Love: The Voice of Women


3. 田园 Fields and Gardens


4. 游览 Landscape: Excursions


5. 山水大观 Landscape: Grand Scenes


6. 山水禅境 Landscape: Chan (Zen) Vision


7. 山水速写 Landscape: Random Sketches


8. 山水理趣 Landscape: A Source of Wisdom


9. 送别 Parting


10. 羁旅 Sojourns of the Wandering Men


11. 边塞与战争 Frontiers and Wars


12. 思乡Homesickness


13. 闺怨 Plaints of Young Women (I)


14. 闺怨 Plaints of Young Women (II)


15. 宫怨 Plaints of Palace Ladies


16. 咏物 Depiction of Things: Sensuous, Allegorical, and Personified


17. 咏史: 名人 Meditation on History: Famous People


18. 咏史: 王朝兴衰 Meditation on History: Rise and Fall of Dynasties


19. 咏怀:感物而发 Reflection: In Response to Scenes and Events


20. 咏怀:往事回忆 Reflection: Remembering Things Past



3. How to Read Chinese Poetry in Context: Poetic Culture from Antiquity through the Tang (2018)
Edited by Zong-qi Cai


1. Poetry and Diplomacy in the Zuo Tradition (Zuozhuan)

   Wai-yee Li (Harvard University)


2. Poetry and Authorship: The Songs of Chu (Chuci)

   Stephen Owen (Harvard University)


3. Empire in Text: Sima Xiangru’s “Sir Vacuous/Imperial Park Rhapsody” (“Zixu/Shanglin fu”)

    Yu-Yu Cheng (National Taiwan University)

   Gregory Patterson (University of South Carolina)


4. Poetry and Ideology: The Canonization of the Book of Poetry (Shijing) during the Han

    Zong-Qi Cai (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)


5. Love beyond the Grave: A Tragic Tale of Love and Marriage in Han China

   Olga Lomová (Charles University)


6. Heroes from Chaotic Times: The Three Caos

   Xinda Lian (Denison University)


7. The Worthies of the Bamboo Grove

   Nanxiu Qian (Rice University)


8. The Poetry of Reclusion: Tao Qian

   Alan Berkowitz (Swarthmore College)


9. The Struggling Buddhist Mind: Shen Yue

   Meow Hui Goh (the Ohio State University)


10. Knight-Errantry: Tang Frontier Poems

    Tsung-Cheng Lin (University of Victoria)


11. Tang Civil Service Examinations

    Manling Luo (Indiana University, Bloomington)


12. Tang Women at the Public/Private Divide

     Maija Bell Samei (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)


13. Poetry and Buddhist Enlightenment: Wang Wei and Han Shan

    Chen Yinchi (Fudan University)

    Jing Chen (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)


14. Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon: Li Bai and the Poetics of Wine

     Paula Varsano (University of California, Berkeley)


15. Du Fu: The Poet as Historian

    Jack W. Chen (University of California, Los Angeles)


16. Poetry and Literati Friendship: Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen

    Ao Wang (Wesleyan University)


17. Li He: Poetry as Obsession

    Robert Ashmore (University of California, Berkeley)



4. How to Read Chinese Drama: A Guided Anthology (2022)
Edited by Patricia Sieber and Regina Llama


Introduction: The Cultural Significance of Chinese Drama

Patricia Sieber (The Ohio State University)

Regina Llamas (IE Universidad)



1. The Story of the Western Wing: Tale, Ballad, and Play

Wilt L. Idema (Emeritus, Harvard University)


2. Purple Clouds, Wrong Career, and Tiger Head Plaque: Jurchen Foreigners in Early Drama

Stephen H. West (Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley; Emeritus, Arizona State University)


3. The Pavilion for Praying to the Moon and The Injustice to Dou E: The Innovation of the Female Lead

Patricia Sieber (The Ohio State University)


4. The Story of the Western Wing: Theater and the Printed Image

Patricia Sieber (The Ohio State University)

 Gillian Zhang (The Ohio State University)


5. The Orphan of Zhao: The Meaning of Loyalty and Filiality

Shih-pe Wang (National Taiwan University)


6. The Female Mulan Joins the Army in Place of Her Father: Gender and Performance

Shiamin Kwa (Bryn Mawr College)



7. Top Graduate Zhang Xie and The Lute: Scholar, Family, and State

Regina Llamas (IE Universidad)


8. The Southern Story of the Western Wing: Traditional Kunqu Composition, Interpretation, and Performance

JOSEPH S.C. LAM (Univeristy of Michigan)


9. The Peony Pavilion: Emotions, Dreams, and Spectatorship

   Ling Hon Lam (University of California, Berkeley)


10. Green Peony and The Swallow’s Letter: Drama and Politics

 Ying Zhang (The Ohio State University)


11. A Much Desired Match: Playwriting, Stagecraft, and Entrepreneurship

S.E. Kile (University of Michigan)


12. The Peach Blossom Fan and Palace of Everlasting Life: History, Romance, and Performance

Mengjun Li (University of Puget Sound)

Guo Yingde (Beijing Normal University)


13. Song of Dragon Well and Other Court Plays: Stage Directions, Spectacle, and Panegyrics

Tian Yuan Tan (University of Oxford)


14. The Eight-Court Pearl: Performance Scripts and Political Culture

Andrea S. Goldman (University of California, Los Angeles)



15. Mulian Rescues His Mother: Play Structure, Ritual, and Soundscapes

Sai-shing Yung (National Singapore University)


16. The Story of Hua Guan Suo: Chantefable and Ritual Plays

Anne E. McLaren (University of Melbourne)


5. How to Read Chinese Drama: A Language Text (under preparation)
By Guo Yingde and Patricia Sieber



6. How to Read Chinese Fiction: A Guided Anthology (under preparation)
Edited by Wei Shang


Titles subject to change

1. The Tales of the Strange in the Six Dynasties

  Pengfei Li (Beijing University)

  Linda Feng (University of Toronto)


2. Tang Tales

   Linda Feng (University of Toronto)


3. Early Vernacular Stories

   Wei Shang (Columbia University)


4. Romance of the Three Kingdoms

   Paize Keulemans (Princeton University)


5. The Journey to the West

   Qiancheng Li (Louisiana State University)


6. Outlaws of the Marsh

  Margaret Wan (University of Utah)


7. The Plum in the Golden Vase

   Sophie Volpp (UC Berkeley)


8. The Vernacular Stories of the Late Ming (San yan and Liang Pai)

   Yongqiang Liu (Beijing University)

   Sarah Kile (University of Michigan)


9. The Vernacular Stories of the Early Qing (Li Yu)

   Sarah Kile


10. The Tales of the Strange in the Early Qing

     Allan Barr (Pomona College)


11. The Unofficial History of the Scholars

    Wei Shang (Columbia University)


12. The Story of the Stone

     Wai-yee Li (Harvard University)



7. How to Read Chinese Fiction: A Language Text (under preparation)
By Pan Jianguo and Jing Chen



8. How to Read Chinese Prose: A Guided Anthology (2022)
By Zong-qi Cai


Introduction: The Literary and Cultural Significance of Chinese Prose

Zong-qi Cai (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Lingnan University of Hong Kong)



1. An Anatomy of the Chinese Prose Form: An Overview

Zong-qi Cai (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Lingnan University of Hong Kong)


2. Pre-Qin Historical Prose: Zuo Tradition (Zuozhuan)

Wai-yee Li (Harvard University)


3. Pre-Qin Philosophical Prose: Recorded Conversations and Argumentative Essays

Scott Bradley Cook (National University of Singapore)


4. The Pre-Qin Philosophical Prose: the Inner Chapters of the Zhuangzi

Shuen-fu Lin (University of Michigan)


5. Pre-Qin and Han Philosophical and Historical Prose: Self-Interest, Manipulation, and the Philosophical Marketplace

Paul R. Goldin (University of Pennsylvania)



6. Han Historical Prose: Sima Qian and the Grand Scribe’s Records (Shiji)

William H. Nienhauser Jr. (University of Wisconsin)


7. Han and Six Dynasties Epistolary Prose: Memorials and Letters

Liu Yucai (Peking University), Benjamin Ridgway (translator)


8. Six Dynasties Informal Prose: A New Account of the Tales of the World (Shishuo xinyu)

Xinda Lian (Denison University)


9. Six Dynasty Parallel Prose: Descriptive and Expository

Zong-qi Cai (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Lingnan University of Hong Kong)



10. Tang and Song Expository Prose: The Practice of Persuasion

Alexei Kamran Ditter (Reed College)


11. Tang and Song Occasional Prose: Accounts of Place, Thing, and Event

Ronald Egan (Stanford University)


12. Tang and Song Occasional Prose: Prefaces and Epistolary Writing

Anna M. Shields (Princeton University) , Stephen H. West (Arizona State University)


13. Tang and Song Biographical Prose: Allegorical and Fictional

Yugen Wang (University of Oregon)



14. Ming and Qing Eight-Legged Essays

Manling Luo (Indiana University)


15. Ming and Qing Occasional Prose: Letters and Funerary Inscriptions

Rivi Handler-Spitz (Macalester College)


16. Ming and Qing Occasional Prose: Accounts of Place and People

Yunte Huang (University of California at Santa Barbara)


9. How to Read Chinese Prose in Chinese: A Course in Classical Chinese (2022)
By Jie Cui, Liu Yucai and Zong-qi Cai

第一單元 史傳 Historical Writings

第二單元 語錄體 Recorded Conversations

第三單元 寓言與論辯 Allegorical Tales and Argumentative Essays

第四單元 傳狀 Biographical Writings

第五單元 書信 Letters

第六單元 序 Prefaces and Occasional Writings

第七單元 論 Expository Essays

第八單元 記 Accounts of Sites and Events


10. How to Read Chinese Literary Theory (under preparation)
By Zong-qi Cai