BA in Chinese Language & Literature

The Chinese Language & Literature major offers students a structured program to acquire a high level of proficiency (ACTFL intermediate-high) in written and spoken modern standard Chinese and in classical Chinese 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, 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. Students are encouraged to study abroad at the BU program in Shanghai.

Like all World Languages & Literatures (WLL) majors, Chinese Language & Literature majors begin with CAS XL 100 Leaving Home: Explorations in World Literature, a team-taught course in which students meet the WLL faculty through guest lectures and get oriented in the rich diversity of the world’s literary traditions. They begin Chinese language study as early as possible and complete at least three language courses beyond the fourth-semester level (CAS LC 212). Students also have the option of taking introductory as well as more advanced courses in Classical Chinese (with course options taught in Chinese or in English). Masterpieces of Chinese Literature (CAS LC 250) introduces students to major texts in English translation and can be taken early in the student’s program. Four additional courses in Chinese language, literature, and/or culture provide greater depth in areas of special interest to the student. One WLL elective focusing on language, literature, or culture from outside of the Chinese-speaking world enhances regional, global and/or historical comparison. Students wishing to explore more of WLL’s course offerings outside of Chinese may substitute an additional elective for one of their four courses in Chinese language, literature, or culture. Seniors majoring in WLL come back together in XL 479, the senior capstone seminar. Students use this course to produce a substantial project in their major and share their work with other WLL seniors working in other languages. The course provides students with structure and research guidance for developing and discussing their projects, while meetings with a faculty language mentor hone students’ advanced language skills as applied to the area of their research. Student presentations build oral communication skills and the ability to describe one’s work to others. Possible final projects could include a research paper on literature, film, or popular culture; an annotated translation or work of subtitling; a video essay; or a digital humanities project. Students producing excellent capstone projects will be encouraged to develop them into senior honors work.

Learning Outcomes

  • Advanced knowledge of major themes and genres in Chinese literature and culture in their historical contexts, including links to other East Asian and world literary traditions.
  • Critical thinking, communication, and writing skills within areas of content and cultural knowledge.
  • Familiarity with fundamental research skills for Chinese studies, including use of traditional and electronic sources.
  • Proficiency in speaking, reading, writing, and listening comprehension in Chinese at the intermediate-high level as measured by ACTFL guidelines.


All students entering as freshmen in Fall 2018 and after will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, a general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements are flexible and can be satisfied in many different ways, through coursework in and beyond the major and, in some cases, through co-curricular activities. Students majoring in Chinese Language & Literature will, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Philosophical, Aesthetic and Historical Interpretation, Diversity, Civic Engagement and Global Citizenship, Communication, along with requirements in the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major.

A total of eleven 4-credit courses is required, all completed with a grade of C or higher.

  • CAS XL 100 Explorations in World Literature: Leaving Home
  • CAS LC 250 Masterpieces of Chinese Literature
  • CAS LC 311 Third-Year Modern Chinese 1
  • Two upper-level Chinese language courses above CAS LC 311, including at least one 400-level LC language course, chosen from:
    • CAS LC 312 (study abroad only)
    • CAS LC 313 Chinese through Communication and Performance
    • CAS LC 314 Classical Chinese 1 for Students of East Asia (taught in English)
    • CAS LC 315 Classical Chinese (taught in Mandarin)
    • CAS LC 316 Topics in Classical Chinese
    • CAS LC 317 Chinese in Modern Society
    • CAS LC 318 Chinese Through Cultural Traditions
    • CAS LC 322 Chinese for Professional Purposes
    • CAS LC 411 Fourth-Year Modern Chinese 1 (study abroad only)
    • CAS LC 412 Fourth-Year Modern Chinese 2 (study abroad only)
    • CAS LC 416 Chinese Through Literary Masterpieces
    • CAS LC 420 Topics in Chinese through Media
    • CAS LC 421 Topics in Chinese Language & Culture (study abroad only)
    • CAS LC 486 Workshop on Translating and Interpreting Chinese
  • Four courses in Chinese language, literature, and/or culture above CAS LC 250. With advisor approval, up to two of these may be Chinese studies courses taken outside the WLL department, for example, in history, art history, the Pardee School, or political science.

Courses taken at our study abroad program in Shanghai may also fulfill these requirements.

  • One WLL elective course, chosen with the advisor’s approval, chosen from all courses in WLL excluding those with a focus on Chinese. May also be satisfied by CAS LX 250 Introduction to Linguistics or a higher-level linguistics course, or by a literature course in Romance Studies, English, or Classics. Students wishing to do more comparative work may count an additional WLL elective in place of one of the four courses in Chinese language, literature, and/or culture.
  • CAS XL 479 WLL Senior Seminar. A capstone course with a paper or translation project that makes use of Chinese-language sources.

Honors in the Major

To graduate with Honors in the Major, students must maintain a GPA in the major of at least 3.4 and take two additional courses above the 11 required for the major:

  • One additional LC or WLL breadth course chosen with approval of the advisor
  • Either CAS XL 540 (Theory and Practice of Literary Translation), or CAS LC 401 or 402 (continuation of the thesis begun in the capstone seminar)