30 James Millard on Teaching Hongloumeng


J: And I'm Jody!  Welcome to American Cafe!  Thanks for dropping in.  

Y:  Jody 我今天好高兴!

J: Why are you so excited?

Y: 因为我刚认识了一位在乔治城大学教红楼梦的教授。

J:  Oh, well no wonder you are so happy!  I know how much you love Hongloumeng.

Y: 没错,因为《红楼梦》是人类历史上最伟大的小说。

J:  Yes, well, to you...it is.

Y:  你那是什么表情啊。你想想世界那里还有一部小说象《红楼梦》那样描写了那么多生动的人物。

J:   Really? 那我象红楼梦里的那个人物?

Y:   这个我等会儿再告诉你。我们先来让大家认识一下 Millward 教授,他还有个中文名字,叫米华健。他其实是历史教授。

J:   A history professor? Then why he is teaching Hongloumeng?

Y:   我们就让米华健教授亲自来解释一下他为什么在历史课上教《红楼梦》:

James Millward: Well, I've always taught Chinese history and I thought, well it would be nice to teach something that stresses the cultural side of Chinese history as well.  And so I thought why not teach Hongloumeng and I wonder if we could use Hongloumeng as a historical source to understand 18th century China.

Y: 你觉不觉米华健教授很有创意?让学生通过《红楼梦》来了解当时中国的社会。

J: That is much more creative because, you know, history can be pretty boring.  yawn!

Y: 没错。如果你一边读《红楼梦》,一边学历史就不会觉得枯燥了。

J: But I wonder what can they learn from Hongloumeng.  Isn't it just a love story?

Y: 那我们听听米华健教授是怎么说的:

James Millward: We read about Qing Dynasty government and Qing Dynasty society, and the legal system. There are a lot of court cases talked about in the book, Xue Pan.  And we read about gender, history of gender and gender relations and women.  We read about poetry and the role of poetry and, in particular, about women writing poetry; we read about art and art history.

J: Wow.  So it's not just a boy-meets-girl love story.

Y: 当然不是! 《红楼梦》可不是一部简单爱情小说.它其实是一部社会小说。

J: Well, did the students like the book?


James Millward: They liked it. They did find it long. They were glad when they were done. You know, if you sit down in the summer and read the whole thing from beginning to end, it doesn't feel long; but if you are reading it every week, it's like homework, and so it's not as much fun. 
Y:  你听到了吗, 米华健教授也说了,夏天读《红楼梦》是一种真正的享受。

J:  Yeah, but how long is it, Yang Chen?

Y:  不太长,只有一百二十回。

J:  不太长?  What do you mean!?!?  One hundred twenty chapters?  Hey, is there a comic book version of Hongloumeng?

Y:  有啊, 我就有一套。不过我建议你先看原著。 也许是因为文化差异,美国学生和中国学生看《红楼梦》会有不同的感受, 我问米华健教授他的学生最喜欢哪个人物.他是这么说的:

James Millward: I know in China as well there is always a big debate about who would you rather have as your wife, Lin Daiyu or Xue Baochai.  Generally American students found Lin Daiyu to be  kind of whiny, and to be lying there all the time and complaining all the time and they didn't really like her character very much.  Some of them liked Xue Baochai, although of them found her a little bit calculating.  Many of them actually liked Wang Xifeng because they saw her as a very capable woman.

Y: 非常有意思。这些美国学生觉得林黛玉喜欢抱怨,whiny。

J: Whiny.  That's not a good trait for a woman. 

Y: 有些人喜欢薛宝钗,可是又觉得她太很有心计,calculating。

J: Calculating?  That's another bad quality.  Are there any good women to like in Hongloumeng. 

Y: 你看他们都喜欢王熙凤。哎,你一开始不是问我你象《红楼梦》里的哪个人物马?我看啊,你就象王熙凤。

J: Why?  What's wrong with her?

Y: She's perfect! 

J: Oh, okay.  I'll have to read the book  to find out because, Yang Chen, maybe I don't believe you. 

Y: 你最好相信我。

J: Now what about you?  Hongloumeng is your favorite book.  I know you've read many many times, which character would you like to play?

Y: 贾宝玉!

J: Jia Baoyu.  Who's that?

Y: 男主角啊!

J: A man!  Well, we're going to have to talk about that later.  Thanks for joining us on today's American Cafe. 
Y: 好今天的美语咖啡屋就到这里。我们下次节目再见!

J: A man? What do you mean a man?

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