Is “literary criticism” a foreign concept? What is the impact of the reception of literary criticism on the modern studies of Chinese literature? Zhu Ziqing's 朱自清 (1898–1948) conception of the function of literary criticism is illustrative of these questions. Zhu developed an interest in Western literary criticism before entering Tsinghua University, where he absorbed more ideas about Western literature. With the support of department head Yang Zhensheng 楊振聲 (1890–1956), he planned a new curriculum in 1928, in an attempt to make literature in his concept a subject as important as classical exegetical studies. From Zhu's curriculum planning, his research orientation, and how he tried to put his ideas into practice, we can observe the oppositional tension between the modern concept of literary criticism and the traditional philological approach of Chinese study. Through an examination of Zhu's academic role, this article explores the emergence of the concept of literary criticism in modern China. It will be compared and contrasted with the situation in the West, with an aim of giving a detailed analysis of the way literary criticism has become an essential part of modern Chinese literary study.

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