Dream of Ding Village in Wisconsin (2020-2021)

During the 2020-2021 Great World Texts in Wisconsin program, teachers and students throughout the state are reading and responding to Yan Lianke’s Dream of Ding Village.

Officially censored upon its Chinese publication, Dream of Ding Village is the prescient story of the public health crisis of the 1990s when rural villages selling their blood led to an AIDS outbreak. The novel is the result of three years of undercover work by writer Yan Lianke, who once worked as an assistant to a well-known Beijing anthropologist in an effort to study a small village decimated by HIV/AIDS as a result of unregulated blood selling.

Classrooms who participate in this program have the opportunity to ask themselves the questions on all of our minds during this moment of global health crisis. How does the Chinese public health system work? What are the inner lives of the suffering and those who allow suffering? What do we do with our fear and uncertainty in a time of illness? And ultimately, what is our responsibility as participants in a public health crisis, and how can we respond here in Wisconsin?

Virtual Conference, “GWT Month”

From March 29 to April 19, 2021, participating schools will be sharing student projects created in response to Yan Lianke’s novel in our first ever virtual GWT Month! We will be archiving these projects here on our digital conference program and archive, as well as highlighting outstanding projects on our weekly newsletter during this three-week period. Follow the fun on Twitter and Youtube with #dingvillagewi, and engage with students who have worked so hard this year despite enormous life challenges. Our conference will culminate with a virtual lecture with author Yan Lianke on Monday April 19 from 7-8pm CT, featuring questions from our participating students! All schools and general audience members are now welcome to register for this live event. A recording of the lecture will be shared only with participating schools.

Teaching Guide and Additional Resources

Teachers participating in the program received the “Dream of Ding Village” curricular guide and supporting materials. They also attended an educator colloquium in August 2020, featuring talks by campus experts, workshopping activities and discussions, and cultural and curricular presentations. Our participating educators and students will participate in a virtual conference from March 29 to April 19, 2021 to share student projects created in response to the novel, culminating in Yan Lianke’s public lecture on April 19, 2021.

All teachers, present and future, are welcome to download the curricular guide and supporting materials to use in their classrooms. Also available are two lectures recorded for our educators’ colloquium on August 31, 2020.

Teaching Guide

Colloquium Handout

Participating Schools Receive:

  • The opportunity to bring a challenging work of world literature to life in your classrooms and to work across disciplinary boundaries with educators at your school.
  • A classroom set of texts for your school’s permanent collection.
  • A curriculum guide, “Teaching Yan Lianke’s Dream of Ding Village.” The guide contains contextual and lecture materials, suggested readings, close reading and discussion activities, handouts, and suggestions for student projects. Our teaching guide is designed to make the text accessible for a range of learners and grade levels, and is customizable to meet the needs of your classroom and students.
  • A professional development colloquium on August 31, 2020, and year-round support.
  • The opportunity to bring your students to UW-Madison for a full-day conference on April 19, 2021 where they will present their work, engage with other students from around the state, and meet the author in person.
  • A stipend that funds your school’s participation in the program. These funds can be used to offset the costs of substitute teachers, travel to Madison, and other program-related expenses.

Keynote Speaker: Student Conference and Public Lecture

Yan Lianke is a Chinese novelist frequently mentioned for the Nobel Prize for Literature; he’s often called the country’s most controversial writer. Drawing on his experiences in the military and the Cultural Revolution, Yan is a satirist and one of world’s greatest chroniclers of modern Chinese society. Among many accolades, he was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize, he was twice a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize, and he has been shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Man Asian Literary Prize, and the Prix Femina Étranger. He has received two of China’s most prestigious literary honors, the Lu Xun Prize and the Lao She Award.

Support for Dream of Ding Village in Wisconsin

Dream of Ding Village in Wisconsin is an initiative of the Center for the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, supported by the A. W. Mellon Foundation; the Evjue Foundation; UW-Madison Libraries; the Center for East Asian Studies; the College of Letters & Science; the Anonymous Fund of the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

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Participating Schools

In 2020-21, 25 schools from across Wisconsin will engage with Yan Lianke’s Dream of Ding Village.
  • Arrowhead Union High School, HARTLAND
  • Bay Port High School, GREEN BAY
  • Chippewa Falls High School, CHIPPEWA FALLS
  • Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah High School, ELKHART LAKE
  • Etude High School, SHEBOYGAN
  • Golda Meir High School, MILWAUKEE
  • Hartford Union High School, HARTFORD
  • Lake Mills High School, LAKE MILLS
  • Madison East High School, MADISON
  • Milwaukee High School of the Arts, MILWAUKEE
  • Milwaukee School of Languages, MILWAUKEE
  • Necedah High School, NECEDAH
  • New Horizons Charter School, SHOREWOOD
  • Oshkosh North High School, OSHKOSH
  • Oshkosh West High School, OSHKOSH
  • Osseo Fairchild High School, OSSEO
  • Rock University High School, JANESVILLE
  • SOAR (School of Options and Applied Research High School), EAGLE RIVER
  • Sun Prairie High School, SUN PRAIRIE
  • Verona Area High School, VERONA
  • Vincent High School, MILWAUKEE
  • Whitehall Memorial High School, WHITEHALL
  • Whitnall High School, GREENFIELD
  • Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
  • Xavier Catholic High School, APPLETON