From the Venice Republic to the fall of the Chinese Empire, Italy and China established numerous cultural relations and exchanges through merchants, traveling monks, envoys and diplomats. The stories of the first travelers have exerted strong appeal for the Orient, which inspired many Italian scholars and artists through the centuries. In the last two centuries the institution of political and economic relations between Italy and China have enabled to greatly improve the understanding of Chinese society and culture. Nevertheless, in books, films and commercials China is still often depicted by means of gross stereotypes, some of which have been handed down from the literary tradition. Students will be introduced to the representations of Chinese society and culture in Italy since Marco Polo’s “Il Milione” book, through various sources including literature, opera plays and - more recently - film and television. The course will also present direct source materials and accounts. The course is taught in English.