Introduction to Chinese Studies

Semester: Fall

Lecturer:  Dr. SHI Donglai

Credit: 3

Course Description:

This core course serves as one of the fundamental pillars of the academic vision and intellectual pursuit of the MA in Modern Chinese Studies program. Both “Sinology” and “Chinese Studies” have Chinese history and culture as their object of study, but in what ways are they different? What does it mean to study China in the age of globalization and digital revolution? How is studying China in China different from doing it elsewhere? What does it mean to do it in English and how does doing it in English differ from doing it in Chinese or other languages?

With these key questions in mind, this course first introduces the field of Sinology as it has developed over the previous centuries in Europe and then casts a critical eye on how it morphed into the increasingly international enterprise of Chinese Studies in North America after the end of Second World War. Moreover, this course is not just a comprehensive survey of Sinology and Chinese Studies as disciplinary formations in Western academia, but also looks at how the study of the Chinese language, history, culture, and society, as a modern academic discipline developed in East and Southeast Asia, including the creation and promotion of the field of guoxue, or National Studies, within China and other Sinophone areas. Our sessions will also examine the debates over Chinese communism, Han identity, Sinophone theory, Chinese reception of Hanxue, and China’s relations with other Global South countries and the status quo of China-related knowledge production and institutional efforts in Russia, Mongolia, and Africa.

In other words, this course is not a mere repetition or summative presentation of Sinology and Chinese Studies as they have been taught in Anglophone academia but forms a meta-academic critical survey on China as a transnational but situated object of study. By studying how China is studied in different historical periods and geo-cultural contexts, students will be equipped with a self-reflective mode of thinking when conducting their own China-related research with different methodologies.