Chinese Program Courses

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Course Descriptions

The list below includes descriptions of all undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Chinese Program.

Review specific course requirements for the Chinese Program. For up-to-date information on course offerings, schedules, room locations and registration, please visit the Student Information System (SIS).

Chinese Language Courses

Language holds the key to knowing people and culture. Of the 6 levels of classes offered, those up to the 4th year meet 4 hours a week in three sessions, while levels 5 and 6 meet 3 hours a week in two sessions. The 2-credit intensive elementary or intermediate class meets 7 hours a week in 6 sessions. Spoken Chinese is stressed in the 1st year, with focus on basic sentence patterns. Writing is given more emphasis in the second year, alongside reading, grammar and vocabulary expansion. 3rd year courses, conducted mainly in Chinese, focus on contemporary readings and in-class discussions. 4th year courses, conducted in Chinese, emphasize reading and writing skills, while also working on speaking and translating skills. 5th year courses cover topics on various aspects of Chinese culture. 6th year offerings include 4 special topics: Media Chinese, Business Chinese, Reading Short Stories, and Practical Writing.

Since language provides insight into ways of thought, feeling and perception at the root of culture, we encourage all with even a little curiosity about Chinese to take whatever their schedules allow, and give credit for 1 semester of study. Students with a serious interest in the language should begin as early as possible, especially if planning to spend a semester or a year abroad, since they need 3 years of college level Chinese in order to make the most of their overseas study. Taking intensive Chinese in the first year is the surest route.  

CHNS 1 Elementary Chinese I. Active command of both oral and written Chinese stressed; emphasis on pronunciation and conversation, pinyin and characters, basic vocabulary and structures. Supplemented by laboratory drills. No prerequisites.

CHNS 2 Elementary Chinese II. Continuation of CHNS 0001. Active command of both oral and written Chinese stressed; emphasis on pronunciation and conversation, pinyin and characters, basic vocabulary and structures. Supplemented by laboratory drills. Prerequisite: CHNS 0001 or equivalent.

CHNS 1 / CHNS 2 Intensive Elementary Chinese. Combines Chinese 1 and 2 into one semester. Followed by Chinese 3-4, this intensive course allows the student to begin third-year Chinese (Chinese 21) after only one year of study. Designed for those who want to move faster. Meets every day. Two credits. No prerequisites.

CHNS 3 Intermediate Chinese I. Continuation of CHNS 0002. Emphasis on basic vocabulary and structures, conversation, reading, and writing. Supplemented by laboratory drills. Prerequisite: CHNS 0002 or equivalent.

CHNS 4 Intermediate Chinese II. Continuation of CHNS 0003. Emphasis on basic vocabulary and structures, conversation, reading, and writing. Supplemented by laboratory drills. Prerequisite: CHNS 0003 or equivalent.

CHNS 3 / CHNS 4 Intensive Intermediate Chinese. Continuation of Chinese 1-2. Combining Chinese 3 and 4 into one semester, this course is designed for those who want to move faster. Meets every day. Two credits. Prerequisite: Chinese 2, 1-2, or equivalent.

CHNS 21 Reading & Conversation I. Designed for students with the equivalent of two years of college Chinese. In addition to further vocabulary development, grammar review, and reading of contemporary prose essays, skills in conversation, translation, and composition are also stressed. Conducted mainly in Chinese. Supplemented by laboratory drills. Prerequisite: CHNS 0004 or equivalent.

CHNS 22 Reading & Conversation II. Continuation of CHNS 0021. In addition to further vocabulary development, grammar review, and reading of contemporary prose essays, skills in conversation, translation, and composition are also stressed. Conducted mainly in Chinese. Supplemented by laboratory drills. Prerequisite: CHNS 0021 or equivalent.

CHNS 121 Advanced Chinese I. Designed for students with the equivalent of three years of college Chinese. Intensive practice in speaking, reading, writing, and translating. Emphasis on contemporary materials dealing with cultural topics. Conducted in Chinese. Supplemented by laboratory drills. Prerequisite: CHNS 0022 or equivalent.

CHNS 122 Advanced Chinese II. Continuation of CHNS 121. Intensive practice in speaking, reading, writing, and translating. Emphasis on contemporary materials dealing with cultural topics. Conducted in Chinese. Supplemented by laboratory drills. Prerequisite: CHNS 121 or equivalent.

CHNS 123 Advanced Readings in Chinese Culture. Designed to enhance linguistic proficiency while examining the intricate cultural, social, and political landscape of contemporary Chinese society. Analysis and discussion of authentic materials and multimedia resources exploring challenges, dilemmas, and prospects in China today. In Chinese. Prerequisites: CHNS 122 or instructor permission. 

CHNS 124 Advanced Chinese Through Film. Advanced Chinese language skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing using feature films, screenplays, and documentaries. Refinement of conversational and composition skills based on cultural, social, and historical topics. Enhancement of cultural awareness and nuanced communication. Prerequisite: CHNS 122 or instructor permission. 

CHNS 125 Media Chinese. Introduction to the language of Chinese media, including newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, and the internet. Covers both the content of selected materials and the linguistic characteristics of the language: vocabulary, structure, and style. Emphasis on improved reading comprehension through the study, analysis, and discussion of a wide range of topics in the Chinese media. Prerequisite: CHNS 0124 or equivalent. 

CHNS 126 Business Chinese. Advanced Chinese course for those interested in contemporary Chinese business communications. Covers various types of authentic business-related language materials, both oral and written. Emphasis on cultural and linguistic aspects of the Chinese business communications. Objectives include a better understanding of the business world in China, its practices and trends, as well as development of language skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Prerequisite: Chinese 124 or equivalent.

CHNS 127 Reading Short Stories. Advanced Chinese language course designed to develop reading skills and appreciation of short stories by Chinese writers, from the early 20th century to present. Both cultural and linguistic aspects covered, with emphasis on grammar, diction and style. Training in composition and oral presentations also included. Prerequisite: Chinese 124 or equivalent.

CHNS 128 Practical Writing. Introductory course in practical writing for students of advanced Chinese. Covers various forms of basic personal, administrative and business writings. May include official notices and stipulations, business proposals and contracts, documents related to lawsuits and litigations, and personal letters of invitations and congratulations. Emphasis on linguistic features of the materials: vocabulary, syntactic structure and style. Prerequisite: Chinese 124 or equivalent.

Advanced Placement; Transfer Credit. Students who know Chinese may arrange for advanced placement. Those who have taken college-level Chinese may arrange for credit transfer.

Linguistics (in English)

Courses in Chinese linguistics provide a systematic study on various aspects of the Chinese Language.  

CHNS 52 Chinese Characters. Explores historical, cultural, and linguistic aspects of Chinese characters. Provides a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of Chinese characters, which enables students to expand their vocabulary in Chinese systematically and efficiently. Major topics include origins and evolution of Chinese characters, characters and culture, character structure and components, IT application, and pedagogy. Emphasis on application of knowledge to actual studies of characters. Prerequisite: Chinese 3 or equivalent.

Courses Taught in English

China represents the world's most richly documented civilization and literary tradition. We offer 5 survey and topical courses covering 3000 years of literature, integrated with 3 courses in civilization and intellectual history. Taught with a comparative dimension, they provide students with the experience of knowing a different culture, while stimulating rethinking of aspects of one's own culture that often escape notice.

As the courses assume no knowledge of Chinese culture or language, they are suitable for all China specialists or otherwise. Those with primary linguistic goals are encouraged to go beyond them, for language learning is a much more inspired experience when coupled with a study of culture and literature. For Chinese American students, the courses will enable them to explore their cultural roots beyond the historical and political reversals of 20th-century China, to understand better the traditional values that integrate into their lives in America.

CHNS 61 Classical Chinese Literature. Introduction to source materials and major genres and writers of the classical period, from 800 B.C.E. to the nineteenth century, with special emphasis on recurrent themes, generic developments, aesthetics, and cultural and historical contexts. Readings include selections from The Book of Poetry, Songs of the South; early historical narratives; Han rhyme-prose and folk ballads; Six Dynasties nature poetry and protofiction; Tang-Song poetry, lyrics, and short stories; Yuan songs and drama; and Ming-Qing novels. (May be taken at 100 level with consent.)  

CHNS 62 Major Modern Chinese Writers. A full understanding of modern China cannot be achieved without a sufficient knowledge and understanding of modern Chinese literature. A survey of major modern authors and their works from the late 19th century to the present. Examines issues of major concern manifested via literature including the conflicting sense of the modern self, search for national identity, and conflicts between traditional and modern cultural values. Explores political, historical, sociocultural, and artistic implications in relation to the complexity of modern China. (May be taken at 100 level with consent.)  

CHNS 70 Introduction to Chinese Popular Culture. A survey of modern and contemporary Chinese popular culture including popular fiction, film, television, music, and the internet. Offers a rare opportunity for students to study and examine a range of Chinese popular cultural forms and texts, specifically their content, production, reception, and social and political implications within specific historical contexts. (May be taken at 100 level with consent.)  

CHNS 72 Martial Arts in Chinese Literature and Film. Introduction to the genre of martial arts fantasy (wu xia) that prevails in Chinese popular culture, covering both traditional materials and modern literature and films. Related issues including gender, power, violence, justice, nationalism, and globalization will be discussed. No prerequisites.

CHNS 73 Readings in Chinese Poetry. Introduction to the tradition of Chinese poetry with a focus on the masterworks of the Tang and Song dynasties. Students will be exposed to readings in Chinese. Taught in English. No prerequisites.

CHNS 75 Wandering with Lu Xun. Lu Xun's fiction, prose poems, and essays; the reasons for his relevance, influence, and fame in and outside China and why he is considered “the greatest modern Chinese writer.” Exploration of his unique thinking about the social and cultural challenges that China faced in the first half of the 20th century. In English. No prerequisite.

CHNS 76 The Chinese Ghost Story. The forms and uses of the ghost story in classical Chinese cosmographic, philosophical, historiographic, and literary traditions from the third century B.C. to the eighteenth century. Special emphasis on the poetics and politics of the ghost story in classical Chinese moral, political, and literary discourses. No prerequisites. Taught in English.   

CHNS 77 Chinese Science Fiction. The Chinese science fiction renaissance since the turn of the 21st century. Works by authors such as Liu Cixin and Hao Jingfan. Explores imaginations and thought experiments on issues related to economic and technological developments and social changes along with the particularity and the universality of their implications. In English. No prerequisite.

CHNS 78 Youth and Culture in Modern China. How "youth" came to be conceptualized in modern China and for what reasons. Reading, watching, and discussing modern Chinese fiction, poetry, essays, film, and scholarly writings. How, as a modern political, social, and cultural category, youth has played a unique role in China's quest for modernization.

CHNS 79 Women and Gender in Modern Chinese Culture. Discussion from a gendered perspective of cultural texts—film, TV, fiction, non-fiction—produced since the early 20th century. Questions to explore include: What major women's and gender issues have confronted modern China? Why have women and gender issues constituted an intrinsic part of modern Chinese history? How do they change and evolve over time and why? How to understand modern Chinese responses to the changes?

CHNS 80 Introduction to Chinese Cinema. Evolution of Chinese film from its inception to the present and how cinematic changes reflect social, cultural, and political changes. Major film directors and cinematic styles and techniques they employed and different subject matters that have preoccupied them. Relationships between Chinese film and politics, social-cultural changes, Hollywood, and the unresolved issues of modernity. No prerequisites.  

CHNS 81 New Chinese Cinema. A comparative exploration of films made in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the PRC in recent decades. Examination of how political, economic, and ideological contexts affect filmmaking in these different "Chinese" regions; how these differences help demonstrate diversities, specificities, contradictions, as well as interactions within and between these Chinese communities. No prerequisites. 

CHNS 82 Rural & Urban China Through Cinema. Focusing on Chinese films set in urban, rural, and rural-to-urban settings, explores the cinematic representations capture the economic-social-cultural differences and changes in modern China. Why do many good Chinese films focus on urban-rural issues? Explore their social and historical reasons and contexts in relation to the changing dynamics in rural and urban China as well as in filmic representations.

CHNS 83 From Beijing to Bollywood: Cinema of China & India. Comparative perspective on China and India via their cinematic traditions, related historical contexts, modern cultural production, and social transformations using selected films and critical essays. Nationalism, revolution, globalization as film expression. Cross-listed as ENG 48, FMS 68 and ILVS 85.

CHNS 101 Foundations of Chinese Thought. The golden age of Chinese philosophy (500-200 B.C.), with special emphasis on the major schools that established the foundations of Chinese thought: Confucianism, Daoism, Moism, School of Names, Legalism, and Yin-Yang philosophy. Issues such as basic orientations of Chinese thought vis-a-vis Western philosophy and the relevance of ancient Chinese thought to the contemporary world will also be discussed. 

CHNS 111 Cultural Perspectives on Chinese Literature. Major aspects of traditional Chinese culture via texts in poetry, prose, philosophy, fiction, and drama. Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist world views and ideals of life as expressed in literature; cultural heroes; voices of women and the common people; the literati's quest for cultural identity; reclusion and utopianism; man and nature; attitudes toward love, family, war, time, and death; comparison with Western perspectives. No prerequisites.

CHNS 161 Classical Chinese Literature. Introduction to source materials and major genres and writers of the classical period, from 800 B.C.E. to the nineteenth century, with special emphasis on recurrent themes, generic developments, aesthetics, and cultural and historical contexts. Readings include selections from The Book of Poetry, Songs of the South; early historical narratives; Han rhyme-prose and folk ballads; Six Dynasties nature poetry and protofiction; Tang-Song poetry, lyrics, and short stories; Yuan songs and drama; and Ming-Qing novels. Additional readings in Chinese and extra class meetings. (Also offered as lower-level.)

CHNS 162 Major Modern Chinese Writers. See Description for CHNS 62. For CHNS 162, additional work will include reading/watching materials, texts and criticisms-in the original language, writing responses to these materials, writing longer papers.

CHNS 170 Introduction to Chinese Popular Culture. See description of Chinese 70. For Chinese 170, additional work will include reading/watching materials, texts and criticisms-in the original language, writing responses to these materials, writing longer papers.

CHNS 185 China and the West. How Chinese and Western cultures perceive and represent one another in film, fiction, TV shows, scholarly writings, and other media. Cultural, political, and historical reasons and implications involved. Prerequisite: junior standing. In English. Fulfills Chinese seminar requirement. Cross-listed as ILVS 185.

Special Topics and Directed Studies

CHNS 91, CHNS 92 Special Topics. Selected topics in literature and culture. In English.  

CHNS 93, CHNS 94 Directed Study. Guided independent study in Chinese language. Prior consent of instructor is required.  

CHNS 191, CHNS 192 Special Topics. Courses and seminars for advanced students.  

CHNS 193, CHNS 194 Advanced Directed Study. Guided independent study in Chinese language, literature, and culture. Prior consent of instructor is required.  

CHNS 198, CHNS 199 Senior Honors Thesis. See Thesis Honors Program for details.