Indian, Chinese, and Japanese Literature

Indian Literature
Works: the Rig Veda, the Taittiriya Upanishad, the Mahabharata, the Bhagavad-Gita
* NOVEL: Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
Concepts to be discussed: orientalism and stereotypes, world religions, individual vs. society

Chinese Literature
Works: the Tao Te Ching, the Analects, the Book of Songs
Concepts to be discussed: author's purpose, the ode, formula poetry, shih poetry

Japanese Literature
Works: Essays in Idleness, The Pillow Book, choka poetry, tanka poetry, haiku
Concepts to be discussed: natural themes in world literature, language connotation, how to write formulaic poetry

Daily Lessons
Assignments: (page numbers refer to the text book: Prentice Hall Literature World Masterpieces, 1996.)

DAY 1: Read the background information and answer the questions.

Here are the cultural literacy terms for this unit:

1. Brahmin
2. Buddha
3. Buddhism
4. caste
5. China
6. Confucius
7. Hinduism
8. India
9. Japan
10. Taoism

DAY 2

Click here for the assignment sheet that lists Assignments 1-8 for this unit.

Assignment #1: Read from the Rig Veda "Creation Hymn" (pp.155-156). Don't forget to read the blue notations in the margins. Read the section on p. 157 called: Understanding Language "Identifying Concrete and Abstract Language" and answer the two questions.

Assignment #2: Read from the Rig Veda "Night" (p. 159). Read the section on p. 159 called: Analyzing Literature "Understanding Personification and Simile" and answer the three questions. You may want to read p. 158 which discusses the two terms in detail.

Assignment #3: Read the background information (p.160-161) about the Taittiriya Upanishad. Then read "The Mystery of Brahman" on pp. 162-163. Read the section on p. 163 called: Analyzing Literature: "Understanding the Mystery of Brahman" and answer the two questions.

DAY 3

Assignment #4: Read the background information (pp.166-167) about the Mahabharata. Read from the Mahabharata "Sibi" (pp. 168-172). Read the section "Exploring the Connotations of Synonyms" (but don't do the assignment). Instead, make two lists of words, one with words that have connotations of evil, and one with words that have connotations of good. The words can be from your own experience as well as the text. Read the section "Writing About Sacrifice" (but don't do the assignment). Instead, make a list of examples (from literature and/or your own experience) of people who have made sacrifices.

Assignment #5: Read the background information (pp. 174-175) about the Bhagavad-Gita. Read from the Bhagavad-Gita "The Yoga of Knowledge" (pp. 176-180). Write a "found poem" using lines directly from the reading selection and rearranging them in an order that creates a meaningful, poetic lesson about life.

DAY 4

Assignment #6: Read the background information about the Tao Te Ching and its author Lao Tzu (pp. 208-209). Read from the Tao Te Ching (pp.210-211). Answer questions #1-4 in the Thinking About the Selection "Interpreting" section on p. 211.

Assignment #7: Read about Confucius (pp. 212-213). Read from The Analects (pp.214-216). Write down your five favorite lines from The Analects. Explain why you like each of the lines you selected.

Assignment #8: Read from Essays in Idleness (pp.267-271) and from The Pillow Book (pp.296-300). These are Japanese prose selections. Write down your five favorite lines (total) from both selections. Explain why you like each of the lines you selected.

DAY 5: Together in class we will create a set of directions for writing the following types of Chinese (odes and shih poems) and Japanese (choka, tanka, haiku) poetry. Look for descriptions and examples of the types of poems on the pages indicated. Your set of directions will be an integral part of the next assignment.

  • songs/odes with refrains (pp. 219-221)
  • "old style" shih poetry (pp. 223-226, 233)
  • "new style" shih poetry (pp. 223, 230-231, 233, 234, 236-237, 239, 24-242, 246-248)
  • choka (pp. 275-279)
  • tanka (pp. 283-285)
  • haiku (pp. 287-292)
DAY 6: Create a culminating project in which you use all the ideas in the above assignments to write six poems. Depending on the year, this project may be required as an individual project, or a group project.
DAY 7: Start reading Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. Go over the background knowledge. Time will be provided in class to read. Click on the chapter title for the worksheets for each chapter, if you have lost your packet of worksheets. Read Chapter 1: The Brahmin's Son.

DAY 8: Read Chapter 2: With the Samanas of Siddhartha.

DAY 9: Read Chapter 3: Gotama of Siddhartha.
DAY 10: Read Chapters 4: Awakening and Chapter 5: Kamala of Siddhartha.
DAY 11: Read Chapter 6: Amongst the People and Chapter 7: Samsara of Siddhartha.
DAY 12: Read Chapter 8: By the River and Chapter 9: The Ferryman Siddhartha.
DAY 13: Read Chapter 10: The Son, Chapter 11: Govinda, and Chapter 12: Om of Siddhartha.
DAY 14: UNIT TEST on Indian, Chinese, and Japanese Literature.
DAY 15: Instructions/advice on how to write an Advanced Placement-style Open Question Essay.
DAY 16: In class AP-style Open Question Essay.
During this unit, students should be working on the research and writing of their World Religion Research Paper.