• Length:
    6 Weeks
  • Effort:
    2–4 hours per week
  • Price:

    Add a Verified Certificate for $99 USD

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  • Course Type:
    Self-paced on your time



About this course

Skip About this course


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.

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • The Four Great Classical Chinese Novels
  • The art of Chinese opera
  • The private Confucian academies since the Song dynasty and their impact on education
  • New Confucianism in the 20th century
  • Labor and gender politics in early New China

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 the Early New China

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

Meet your instructors

Jack Chun
Senior Teaching Fellow, Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Meng Li
Teaching Fellow, Confucius Institute of Hong Kong
Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Hsueh-yi Lin
Teaching Fellow, Department of Chinese Culture
Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Wan-yi Wu
Assistant Professor, Department of Chinese Culture
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

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Frequently asked questions

Question 1: Who is this course suitable for?

  • Laypeople who have little knowledge of Chinese culture and would like to broaden their horizons
  • Students who are looking for new perspectives on Chinese culture in a wide spectrum
  • International businesspeople who aim to enrich their general knowledge of Chinese culture for effective communication with their Chinese clients

Question 2: How many topics does this course cover?

  • It covers 5 different key topics focused on Chinese cultural exchange and interaction with other countries in history, delivered by 5 experts respectively.

Question 3: Are the units long in length?

  • Each unit focuses only on one topic. The design of the units aims to make the course compact and yet impactful. You will be amazed at the fact that you can easily grasp the basic knowledge of Chinese culture within a short period of time.

Question 4: Are the mini-lectures interesting?

  • Yes, interesting illustrations and animations are adopted to enhance the mini-lectures .

Question 5: Can I further enrich my knowledge of Chinese culture after completing this course?

  • Yes, this course is 1 of 3 courses in the HKPolyUx series on Chinese culture. You can expand your knowledge by studying all 15 topics on Chinese culture delivered by 15 experts in the X series.

Question 6: How can I benefit from enrolling in the HKPolyUx series of Chinese culture?

  • You can expand your horizons by taking part in the X series, which is by far one of the most systematic and comprehensive programs on Chinese culture on edX.
  • The X series is a cohesive program. For instance, in the Tradition course, you learn about the origin of Confucianism in the Zhou dynasty. In the Transformation course, you learn about the private Confucian academies from the Song dynasty onwards and New Confucianism in the 20th century. In the Interaction course, you discover the answer to the interesting question whether Confucius drank tea or alcohol. There are many more connections between the units of the X series.
  • Cross-references within the X series are available to assist your study. They stimulate your curiosity and consolidate your knowledge-base.

Question 7: Can I get a discount by enrolling in all 3 courses of the HKPolyUx series on Chinese culture as a verified learner?

  • Yes, you can.