The graduate programs in Chinese at Washington University are now in their fifth decade of growth. In addition to the M.A. in Chinese and the Ph.D. in Chinese and Comparative Literature, in 2010 we initiated a new doctoral program in Chinese Language and Literature wholly housed in this Department. After thirty-five years of successful programs combining the advanced study of Chinese literature with courses offered through the University’s doctoral program in Comparative Literature, we now offer the option of a doctoral program that emphasizes deep training in Chinese literature with a second field in another East Asian literature or in Chinese studies in another discipline.
Among our internationally-recognized Chinese literature faculty, our research strengths are in premodern poetry, religious and women’s writings, narrative and dramatic literature of the late imperial period, and modern and contemporary literature from all parts of greater China; our research areas include book culture, gender questions, popular culture, translation theory and practice, and globalization and cosmopolitanism. Our East Asian Library has substantial collections in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and European languages, along with the major online resources for research in these areas. As one national literature program among many at Washington University, our students are regularly treated to lectures by noted writers and literary scholars from around the world. Recent visitors have included Salman Rushdie, Homi Bhabha, Helen Vendler, Orhan Pamuk, and Slavoj Žižek. Among our 2010 Chinese visitors were Ma Dazheng from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, and Jiang Jin, East China Normal University, Shanghai.
Students in our programs will take a combination of advanced courses and seminars in Chinese literature, in literary theory and analysis to enhance their investigative skills, and in Chinese history and other fields to strengthen their grasp of the contexts in which literature was historically written and read. Most students will also gain teaching experience during their years of study; some may wish to take a Graduate Certificate as well. Our faculty are few, but all work closely with students through coursework and research as well. Consequently our program has had outstanding success in placing our graduates in doctoral study (after the M.A.) or in academic positions (after the Ph.D.). The thirty-plus graduates of our doctoral program hold tenure-line positions across the length and breadth of the United States, in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, and the People’s Republic, and in Germany.
As Washington University’s institutional affiliations with Chinese universities grow and develop, our students have ever more chances to meet and to work with top faculty in East Asia. Recent visiting scholars include Professors Wang Ning of Tsinghua University and Guo Yingde of Beijing Normal University. Our doctoral candidates have regularly carried out research in Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Taipei with financial aid from the University.
Financial Aid for Ph.D. Students
The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences regularly provides financial aid to students in Ph.D. programs. Students who make normal progress toward completion can expect five years of awards that include tuition remission, fees, and a stipend sufficient to cover all living expenses. During the first year each new student will be granted a University Fellowship, followed by Teaching or Research Assistantships in the middle years of the program. Students may apply for a Dissertation Fellowship for the year during which they complete the degree. Students are encouraged to apply for summer support for research in East Asia or at library collections elsewhere.
Washington University also has several special fellowship programs such as the Olin Fellowship for Women or the Chancellor's Graduate Fellowship Program for outstanding students from underrepresented groups in American society who are interested in careers as college or university professors. Applicants for our doctoral programs from other countries may also be considered for the McDonnell Academy scholarships which include tuition remission and generous annual stipends.
Admissions to the Doctoral Programs
Preference will be given to applicants who have the MA degree in a relevant discipline and area and have native or advanced competence in the language of their major literature and reading competence in at least one other research language. However, students who have unusually rich undergraduate backgrounds may apply for these programs after completing the BA in Chinese or in a related field.
Students who are primarily interested in literature as a general field of study, which includes the study of critical theory and methodology and at least one literature in addition to Chinese, should choose our highly successful Ph.D. Program in Chinese and Comparative Literature. In addition, the Department now offers the option of deep training in Chinese literature with a second field in another East Asian literature or in Chinese studies in another discipline: history, anthropology, art history, or film and media studies. Students whose interests are less comparative and more focused on China should choose this Ph.D. Program in Chinese Language and Literature.
Students in both doctoral programs will have a variety of teaching experiences, including language teaching at several levels, grading essays in English, leading discussion sections, and giving lectures. When available, students will also have the opportunity to teach or to team-teach a course under the supervision of a faculty member.
Duration of the Programs
The Masters of Arts Program is usually completed in two years. The Ph.D. Programs require five to six years to complete: two to three years devoted to course work and comprehensive examinations and the remaining period devoted to research and to writing the dissertation.
Students who are non-native speakers of Chinese or Japanese are strongly encouraged to apply for external funding for one or more years of language study abroad while still taking coursework. In addition, qualified students should seek external funding for research abroad for dissertation research to supplement financial aid provided by the Graduate School.