Program: China Studies, SISU
Language of Instruction: English
Instructor: Roy Gu (Associate Professor, School of English Studies, SISU)
This course aims at equipping students intellectually to approach the Chinese culture in comparison with its Western counterparts. To better understand the Chinese culture requires an inter-cultural perspective. What is China like? What are the Chinese people like? What are they thinking about? Why do they do what they do? What are the primary assumptions for understanding this country and its people? This course will tell you, with interesting examples, things you need to know about China and the Chinese people which you would not easily find in textbooks. Different topics in this course illuminate the differences and similarities between Chinese culture and Western culture in terms of values, customs, traditions, mindsets, cultural and artistic representations, interpersonal relationships, communication styles, etc. In the form of seminar, this course provides students with not only information but also fresh insights and perspectives.
Arthur Smith, Chinese Characteristics
Lin Yutang, My Country and My People
Lu Hsun, Chosen Pages from Lu Hsun
Yiyun Li, Gold Boy, Emerald Girl
This is a seminar course, which means each student will contribute to each week’s discussion. Each student will also give a 15 minutes presentation which compares his/her own culture and the Chinese culture. A final project will be due in the last class.
The grade for the courses will be based on three components:
Contribution to class discussions (40%)
A presentation (20%)
The final project (40%).
F: 59% and below
A range: Excellent. Consistently outstanding performance throughout the semester, with plus grades being reserved for superior work that surpasses all standards listed in the course syllabus.
B range: Good. A solid performance that is above average yet may also contain notable errors or shortcomings.
C range: Satisfactory. An average performance wherein the minimum criteria listed in the course syllabus have been achieved.
D range: Minimal pass. Work is seriously deficient in multiple areas: thought, writing, attendance, participation, etc.
F: Failure. Work that fails to meet the minimum criteria in all aspects.
(Readings should be completed before class.)
Week 1/ Mar. 4: Introduction: Understanding China with Intercultural Perspectives
Week 2/ Mar. 11: Chinese Mentality vs. Western Mentality (I): “Face” and Beyond
Readings: Arthur Smith, Chinese Characteristics, Ch. 1-6.
Week 3/ Mar. 18: Chinese Mentality vs. Western Mentality (II): Flexibility and Contextualization
Readings: Arthur Smith, Chinese Characteristics, Ch. 7-12,
Lin Yutang, My Country and My People, Ch. I.
Week 4/ Apr. 1: Chinese Mentality vs. Western Mentality (III): Group vs. Individual
Readings: Arthur Smith, Chinese Characteristics, Ch. 13-18,
Lin Yutang, My Country and My People, Ch. III, IV.
Week 5/ Apr. 15: Chinese Mentality vs. Western Mentality (IV): Survival Mechanisms
Readings: Arthur Smith, Chinese Characteristics, Ch. 19-22,
Lin Yutang, My Country and My People, Ch. II.
Week 6/ Apr. 22: Chinese Mentality vs. Western Mentality (V): Filial Piety
Readings: Arthur Smith, Chinese Characteristics, Ch. 23-27,
Lin Yutang, My Country and My People, Ch. V, VI.
Week 7/ May 6: Understanding Cultural Clashes (I)
Discussion about the film The Joy Luck Club (I)
Week 8/ May 13: Understanding Cultural Clashes (II)
Discussion about the film The Joy Luck Club (II)
Week 9/ May 19: Field trip (“Internship program”): Getting to know the Chinese people and their lives
Week 10/ Jun. 10: Understanding the Chinese Spirit (I)
Readings: Lu Hsun, Chosen Pages from Lu Hsun, pp. 1-165.
Week 11/ Jun. 17: Understanding the Chinese Spirit (II)
Readings: Lu Hsun, Chosen Pages from Lu Hsun, pp. 166-315.
Week 12/ Jun. 24: Contemporary Chinese Mindset vs. the West
Readings: Yiyun Li, Gold Boy, Emerald Girl
Final project due.
My Culture and the Chinese Culture: Differences and Similarities
Each student will do a 15-minute presentation which compares the Chinese culture with his/her own culture. At least five differences and three similarities need to be mentioned. The presentation should be analytical, offering sound arguments based on facts. The presenter needs to pay special attention to variations in his/her own culture.
Growing up in China: What Does It Mean?
Each student will interview three Chinese people from different backgrounds, and write an in-depth report which illustrates the lived experience of these people. An intercultural perspective is needed.
Getting to Know the Chinese People and Their Lives
Students of this course will visit the Songjiang campus where they will have the opportunity to meet and talk with SISU’s undergraduate students. Most probably they will be invited to a freshman classroom, where an intercultural gathering will take place. Each student will introduce themselves, and then one Chinese student and one foreign student will respectively describe their lives. Then they will be divided into small groups and have some in-depth discussions about their experience in different cultures. This will give students a valuable intercultural arena where they can practice communicating with people from different cultural backgrounds.