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Chinese Studies

Overview   |   Our Faculty   |   The Minor   |   Courses  

In addition to Chinese language study, students can engage in a variety of courses that focus on China. They can plan semester and yearlong study abroad programs as well as summer EPIC Advantage research opportunities in China led by Earlham faculty. Students are able to immerse themselves in the increasing co-curricular opportunities that bring China to our campus.

Many courses in the Earlham curriculum include significant China content. These courses can be found across the curriculum, including courses cross-listed in Religion, Politics, History, Music, Literature, International Studies, Chinese Language, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. In addition, one-time topic courses like "When East Meets West: Masterpieces of Modern Chinese Fiction" are offered.

Students interested in concentrated study of China may work with their academic adviser to develop an independent, self-designed major or minor in Chinese Studies. A minor in Chinese Studies is now part of the curriculum.

Earlham students who pursue study abroad in China participate in CIEE programs.

Our Faculty

Marya Bower
Professor of Philosophy

Kari Kalve
Professor of English

Ying Liu
Visiting Assistant Professor of Chinese

Mingda Sun
Post-Doctoral Fellow in Chinese

Peng Yu
Assistant Professor of Politics

The Minor

Students pursuing a minor in Chinese Studies must complete:

  • Second-year level of Chinese language instruction (CHIN 202 or equivalent).
  • HIS 265/472 Modern China or HIS 266 Contemporary China and the World or CHIN 321 Introduction to Chinese Culture.
  • Three Chinese Studies courses of 3 or more credits each. At least two must be an advanced-level course (300 levels and above).

Students pursing a minor in Chinese Studies are strongly recommended but not required to complete:

  • Off-Campus Study Program in China, Taiwan or Hong Kong (full year, one semester or summer EPIC Advantage Research Program).


* Key

Courses that fulfill
General Education Requirements:

  • (A-AR) = Analytical - Abstract Reasoning
  • (A-QR) = Analytical - Quantitative
  • (D-D) = Diversity - Domestic
  • (D-I) = Diversity - International
  • (D-L) = Diversity - Language
  • (RCH) = Research
  • (W) = Wellness
  • (WI) = Writing Intensive
  • (AY) = Offered in Alternative Year

*CHIN 101 BEGINNING CHINESE I (5 credits) (D-L)
This is a beginning class of Mandarin Chinese in listening, speaking, reading and writing. This course aims to develop the ability of learners to communicate in Chinese, either by speaking or by writing, at the elementary level. While classes held for the course will be largely devoted to speaking and listening in Chinese, students enrolled for the course are expected to be able to read and write all the Chinese characters/vocabularies that are introduced in each lesson, and be able to comprehend and produce them in a sentence and paragraph level. Students will develop their ability to carry on short conversations in Chinese on the topics introduced in class.

This is a continuation of CHIN 101, a beginning Chinese course for non-native Chinese speakers. This course is designed to help students further develop their oral communication skills in daily life situations as well as improve their reading and writing proficiency in Chinese. In addition to class time, students are required to have one-on-one sessions with the Teaching Assistant. Prerequisite: CHIN 101. (D-L)

This course is designed for students who have taken intensive intro Chinese or its equivalent. To consolidate the foundation which students have built in their intro Chinese courses and to introduce them to more complex grammatical structures and background cultural information. Prerequisite: CHIN 102.

This course is a continuation of CHIN 201, an intermediate level Chinese course. This course aims to help students further develop their oral and written communication skills in the target language, as well as their awareness of the target culture. Students are required to have one-on-one sessions with the Teaching Assistant or Tutor outside class. Prerequisite: CHIN 201.

This course is designed to support and enhance a student's learning experience through extensive reading of Chinese texts. Students will choose readings from a selection that is kept in reserve in Lilly Library. Homework assignments will be based on those readings. Students enrolled in the course will be evaluated by their reading selections, attendance and assignments. Prerequisite: Students must have successfully completed CHIN 101 or the equivalent.

This course is a continuation of second-year Chinese. The general objective is to improve the learners’ Chinese (Mandarin) proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, writing and translating. The course materials are selected articles from authentic Chinese newspapers, which will facilitate the students’ command of formal register and vocabulary. By studying, discussing and reflecting on these articles, students also will enhance their understanding in Chinese society and culture. Prerequisite: CHIN 101, 201 or permission of the instructor.

This course will focus on two aspects of the political economy of China and India. First, it will undertake a comparative examination of the economic performance of these countries since the 1940s, taking into account important historical and political factors. Second, it will look into what the future may hold for these two countries. Prerequisite: ECON 101 and ECON 103, or consent of instructor. Also listed as ECON 350 and INST 350.

*CHIN 356 INTRODUCTION TO CHINESE CINEMA (3 credits) This course is designed to introduce important Chinese films from the 1990s to the 2010s to help students understand China’s cultural and social transformation as well as its self-positioning in this globalized era. The films the class will view, consider and discuss are often read as national allegories, historical, political and social critiques. The films in their own way revisit history and offer a different perspective to the perception of the past and present in contemporary Chinese society and culture. Our examination explores critical features of Chinese post-socialist cultural and social diversity; and moreover, we will discuss ideological implications. The course aims to enhance students’ skills of reading visual materials in an analytical and critical way and to provide students both diachronic and synchronic visions of key issues of modernity, nationalism, socialism, post-socialism and globalization. Primary texts include film and song. No prior knowledge of cinema studies or Chinese language is required. (D-I)

CHIN 485 INDEPENDENT STUDY (1-3 credits)
Investigation of a specific topic conceived and planned by the student in consultation with a faculty supervisor. Culminates in a comprehensive report prepared in the style of a thesis or paper.



This course explores the key question of how the Second World War shaped the everyday lives of Chinese, Japanese, and foreigners in East Asia and the world. In addition, students explore the reasons for and the nature of major events in the war – including the Nanjing massacre, the Chinese resistance to and collaboration with the Japanese, Japan’s wartime mobilization, the role of science and technology in war-making, the gendered and racial underpinnings of wartime labor, the rise of the Chinese Communist Party, and the U.S. government’s decision to release atomic bombs in Japan. (D-I)

A survey of traditional culture in China, Viet Nam, Korea and Japan, with emphasis on China and Korea, and on East Asia as an international system. Special attention to the historical development of the great tradition in literature, art, religion, politics and social institutions. Also listed as JPNS 226. (D-I) (AY)

*HIST 228 MODERN EAST ASIA (3 credits)
A survey of East Asia since about 1800, with emphasis on China and Korea, and on East Asia as an international system. Special attention to the historical development of politics, economics, society and social institutions, literature, thought and international relations. Prerequisite: An Earlham Seminar, an Interpretive Practices course or consent of the instructor. Also listed as JPNS 228. (WI, D-I) (AY)

*HIST 265 MODERN CHINA (3 credits)
This course examines the history of China’s recent past from the 17th century to the present. Students explore the rise and fall of an expansive Qing Empire, debate the vibrancy of Republican-era China, and examine the multifaceted experiences of ordinary people living in the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China on Taiwan. Students analyze such themes such as rebellions and revolutions, gender relations, foreign diplomacy, material culture and economic development through the myriad voices of political leaders, activists, intellectuals, students, workers, filmmakers and poets. Students gain understanding of the rise of China today within the context of its dynamic recent past. (D-I)

*HIST 472 MODERN CHINA (4 credits) Research Credit.
A survey of Chinese historical development from the first dynasties to the present day, with emphasis on the period from the mid-14th century through the liberalizing reforms of the post-Mao era. Investigates problems of historical continuity and change, Chinese perceptions of themselves and of the West, attempts at economic and political modernization, the Maoist revolution, and the interplay between institutions and ideas. Also listed as JPNS 472. (D-I) (AY)


International Studies

INST 330 CHINA AND THE NEWS (4 credits)
It seems that a day doesn't go by without a significant story about China appearing in a major news source.  How China presents itself to the world via its media, and how the rest of the world frames and receives this presentation, raises questions of ethics and integrity in the media and cross-cultural communication.  Using a variety of texts and digital resources including blogs and film documentaries, this course will explore both the form and the content of Chinese news media.


Japanese Studies

A survey of literary texts from Asia, especially China (Mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan), South Korea and Japan. Readings and discussions of short stories, novels, poems and essays in English translation that reflect each society's changing views of traditions, modernization and literary values. Prerequisite: An Earlham Seminar, an Interpretive Practices course or consent of the instructor. (WI, D-I) (AY)

Political ecology is a set of scholarly inquiries and approaches that seeks to account for the ways in which power relationships inform, shape, interact with, and are expressed through ecological relationships. This course entails an examination of political ecologies in the East Asia region. The first part of the course introduces students to political ecology approaches to studying ecological systems, and the second part employs case studies from East Asia to examine how power functions in and through ecological systems. Also listed as ENST 376. (D-I) (AY)



This course provides students with a broad introduction to China's politics in the modern period. The focus will be on top leaders, political institutions and policies under Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rule. The course covers the main stages in the history of CCP rule: the Mao Zedong period,1949-1976; the Deng Xiaoping period, 1977-1994; and the rule of the so-called third- and fourth-generation leaders, Jiang Zemin, 1995-2003, and Hu Jintao, 2003-1012. A.R.T.S. designation: R. Prerequisite: Politics 111 or consent of the instructor. Also listed as POLS 358 and INST 358. (D-I, WI)

Introduces the tradition of Chinese political thinking. Surveys a wide range of schools of thought in early Chinese intellectual history such as Confucianism, Daoism, Mohism and Legalism. Investigates the origin of politics, power, authority, ethics through the lens of Chinese philosophy. Prerequisites: Earlham Seminar I and II, and POLS 111. (D-I) (Subfield Designation: T) (A.R.T.S Designation: T) (AY)



Introduction through teachings, videos, and memoir to the three Buddhist "turnings of the wheel": Theravadan Buddhism in India, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia; Tantric Buddhism in India and Tibet; and the Mahayana, through Zen in Japan, China, and Vietnam. Students will learn methods of meditation, maintain and journal, and discuss readings and experiences together. Also listed as JPNS 172. (D-I) (AY)

An exploration of the religious and philosophical thought and practice of East Asia, including Popular, Shinto, Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist traditions as manifested in the classical periods of cultural development as well as contemporary society. Prerequisite: One course in Religion (preferably in World Religions), one course in Japanese Studies or consent of the instructor. Also listed as JPNS 380. (D-I)

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