BA in Chinese Language & Literature

The Chinese Language & Literature major offers students a structured program to acquire high-level proficiency in written and spoken modern standard Chinese and in classical Chinese, to critically engage with the rich and diverse cultural heritage from Chinese antiquity to the present, and to develop the cultural competency needed to understand Chinese literature and culture in the changing East Asian and global context. The program’s broad array of courses, taught partly in English and partly in Chinese, is tailored to help students gradually acquire relevant language skills, analytical abilities, and cultural knowledge. Majoring in Chinese is a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary learning experience. It enables students to understand Chinese culture by gaining a firm grasp of both canonical and popular works of literature; of contemporary cinema, visual arts, and new media from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and mainland China; as well as of the philosophical and religious foundations of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, along with modern ideologies and intellectual trends.

Students majoring in Chinese leave BU with a high degree of linguistic proficiency, with skills to critically analyze literary and cultural phenomena and knowledge of China’s rich heritage that will enable them to function in today’s China. It provides them with a solid foundation for pursuing graduate studies in various China-related fields and prepares them for careers in education, service in government or local and international nongovernmental organizations, as well as business and the private sector. Through their courses and close work with faculty actively engaged in research in China and East Asia, students will develop global intercultural communication skills and have the chance to design their own major based on their intrinsic interests. To meet the challenge of keeping up with the quick pace of change in China and Asia, our major offers students stimulating intellectual challenges and opportunities to explore, deepen, and perhaps reexamine their own pre-existing beliefs and ideas about China’s heritage as well as its contemporary culture.

The major requires the completion of 13 courses with a grade of C or higher in each course, after completing or fulfilling the prerequisite of CAS LC 212 (Fourth-Semester Chinese) or LC 216 (Chinese Reading and Writing).

Required Courses

Unless otherwise noted, all courses are 4 credits.

4 Language-Focus Courses

After completing or placing above the CAS LC 212 or LC 216 (fourth-semester) level, students must take four additional Chinese language courses. Normally these include:

• CAS LC 311 Third-Year Modern Chinese

• CAS LC 312 Third-Year Modern Chinese or LC 313 Chinese Through Theater and Acting

• CAS LC 314 Classical Chinese I for Students of East Asia (taught in English), LC 315 Classical Chinese (taught in Mandarin), or LC 316 Topics in Classical Chinese

• One additional course chosen from the following:

• CAS LC 313 Chinese Through Theater and Acting

• CAS LC 316 Topics in Classical Chinese

• CAS LC 411 Fourth-Year Modern Chinese I

• CAS LC 412 Fourth-Year Modern Chinese II

• CAS LC 420 Topics in Chinese through Media

• CAS LC 486 Workshop on Translating and Interpreting Chinese

Students placing out of LC 311 and/or LC 312/313, in particular very advanced or native speakers, will replace these with other advanced LC Chinese courses in consultation with their advisor.

3 Literature Courses

Students must complete at least three Chinese literature courses including the foundational surveys in pre-modern and modern Chinese literature (CAS LC 250, LC 251). Course topics for additional courses might include modern Chinese fiction, Classical Chinese literature, women writers, folklore, Chinese popular literature, or comparative courses that deal with Chinese literature in the context of East Asia and the world. LC 316 may be used as either a literature or language course but not both. LC 260 may be used as a civilization or literature course but not both.

2 Civilization Courses

Students need to take two additional topics courses in Chinese history and culture, chosen from the following or other courses approved by the advisor (except where marked *, courses are in English translation):

• HI 363 Early Chinese History

• HI 364 Modern Chinese History

• LC 260 Gateway to Asian Cultures

• LC 280 Chinese Classics in Today’s World

• LC 283 Chinese Civilization

• LC 286 Topics in Chinese Culture

• LC 287 Screening Modern China

• LC 440 Mass Media and Social Change in Modern China*

Not required, but highly recommended for building a broad foundation, are additional courses in related disciplines of Chinese studies including history, history of art and architecture, anthropology, religion, and international relations.

2 Comparative Literature Courses

All majors must take two courses in comparative literature (chosen from CAS XL 222, XL 223, XL 224, XL 225) and/or linguistics (CAS LX 250). The completion of the Core Curriculum Humanities Sequence (CAS CC 101, CC 102) fulfills the XL 222 requirement.

2 Elective Courses

Students will take two additional courses chosen in consultation with the advisor from LC courses at the 300 level or above or related courses in MLCL or other departments as approved by the advisor.

Study Abroad

Students regularly study abroad in Boston University’s Shanghai programs at Fudan University for a semester or a year. Faculty advisors assist students in completing their requirements through these programs. Non-language courses in Shanghai can be taken for credit toward the Chinese Language & Literature major only if pre-approved by the student’s BU faculty advisor before enrollment in the relevant Shanghai course(s).

Placement Test

A placement test is required of all students whose most recent course in Chinese was taken while in high school or at a college other than Boston University and who wish to continue their study of this language here. Information about online testing is available at the Modern Languages & Comparative Literature Department website.