China has emerged as a global superpower. Its economic, political, and cultural influence will uniquely shape the 21st century. The purpose of this course is to immerse students in both the official and vernacular narratives that “new China” presents to itself and the world. Narratives are both a way of knowing about the world and a way of participating in that world. Narratives organize and make sense of the people, places, events, and actions that we experience. Narratives shape what a particular experience means and how our individual and collective interpretations are connected. Through on-the-ground exploration of Beijing and Shanghai, students will study the complex, interrelated, and consequential historical and contemporary Chinese narratives constructed through public memorials, mass media, public relations and advertising, and everyday sites of cultural production and display. Students will examine these multi-dimensional narratives through readings, discussions, and assignments that include both experiential and analytical components.
Department of Communication
Did you study abroad as a student?
No, but I worked in Japan for 15 months following graduation from college. It was the single most important event in shaping the trajectory of my life.
Why should Communication students go abroad?
In no other context will students so rapidly and viscerally begin to understand how “reality” is a function of communication. When students confront values, attitudes, and beliefs very different from their own, they inevitably feel some anxiety, confusion, and discomfort. But these feelings can lead to productive and creative personality growth as students make sense of themselves and the world in new ways. Students who travel abroad gain unmatched insights into how communication mediates relationships between self and other on micro, meso, and macro levels. The demonstrated maturity, flexibility, and ability to overcome obstacles gained via study abroad will serve students well as they enter the workforce or graduate school.
What inspires you about China?
The aspirations, energy, and insights of the Chinese people who support/join us on our adventures.
What was the most interesting thing that happened to you in China?
The behind the scenes glimpses of the lives of China's future leaders.
What was the weirdest thing that happened to you in China?
Taking a Qigong class and having to wear a sweater to heat up before mediating.
What is your favorite Chinese food?
Haidilao Hot Pot. A mix of veggies, meats, and sauces that flow without end!
What is one thing Americans should know about China?
The Qing Dynasty ended in 1911. Perceptions that some Americans have about China have been heavily influenced from images of this time communicated through film, music, TV, and books. China is a modern country with many of the same products and services that we have in the West. Some Chinese are mildly offended when Americans seem ignorant about their development.
Why do you get excited about the subject matter of Narratives of the New China?
China is a rising power. Its culture and influence will uniquely shape the 21st century. We are witnessing historic and sweeping changes, and it is thrilling to be a part of it.
What do you expect students to learn from your course?
Upon completion of the course, students will be able to understand the process of the construction of national identity and narratives. They will be able to demonstrate familiarity with theory and research in the areas of the narrative paradigm, narrative analysis, media construction of events, and public memory. The will be able to analyze and reflect critically on cultural sites, displays, and current events from a narrative perspective, as well as appreciate the cultural displays used to construct the past and present narratives of China.