Chinese

Woman in traditional blue and white Chinese dress happily dances with bright yellow, colorful fan.

Chinese is one of several majors taught within the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures.

Undergraduate degree: BA
Undergraduate minors: Chinese, Japanese, Korean

Immerse Yourself In Culture

A rich and varied tradition of literature is rooted in the cultures of East Asia. If you want to develop your understanding of Chinese or Japanese literature, language, culture, or film, the University of Oregon has the perfect program for you.

You may choose either language-intensive or culture-intensive majors in Chinese or Japanese language, depending on your focus and interests. Language-intensive majors will take at least four years of modern language, literary language, and essential literature courses; culture-intensive majors will take at least three years of modern language and a wider range of literature and culture courses.  

Intensive summer language programs supplement those offered during the academic year, and many of our students immerse themselves in their studies by attending study abroad programs in Beijing, Sapporo, Nanjing, Taipei, Tokyo, or other locations.

The University of Oregon's Center for Applied Second Language Studies is one of five different collaborating Chinese Flagship Centers funded through The Language Flagship. The Center offers integrated programs that nurture global professionals with the cultural, academic, and linguistic tools required to manage the demands of today's work environments. After two years of intensive on-campus study preparation, Flagship students will spend their junior year enrolled in course work specific to their majors at Nanjing University in China. In China, students will also be given hands-on community service and research opportunities that relate to their honors theses.

The Yamada Language Center offers audio, video, and software support for the study of East Asian languages, and provides these programs and other cultural events during the school year. The Yamada Center also offers a free tutoring exchange program. Just stop in, or sign up online. If you attend the university and want to practice your language skills with others—or just need a little bit of help—check out Yamada’s language exchange database. And Yamada’s Chat Server is just the thing for students who want to practice conversing in an Asian language.

The East Asian Languages and Literatures program at the UO provides an in-depth education in either Chinese or Japanese language, culture, and tradition. Whether you’re interested in ancient or modern culture, this specialized degree will leave you well prepared for a wide range of career opportunities.

Points of Interest

  • Research-active faculty specializes in fields such as gender studies, visual media, and popular Asian culture
  • Live the language by studying abroad at universities in Tokyo, Sapporo, Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, or Taipei
  • EALL and the UO Chinese Flagship Program provide academic and professional training as well as real-life experiences through its honors-level multi-disciplinary course offerings. Intermediate to Advanced-level language learners from diverse academic interests and backgrounds are encouraged to apply

Sample Courses

  • Literature of Modern Taiwan surveys the literature of Taiwan from the postwar era to the present. Discussion focuses on national identity, gender, class, modernization, and globalization
  • Introduction to Japanese Literature is a historical survey of Japanese literature from the 8th century to the present. Analysis and appreciation of major works, genres, and authors such as The Tale of Genji, Haiku, Kawabata, and Mishima
  • Tokyo Cyberpunk explores the urban dreams and nightmares that constitute cyberpunk's posthumanist vision of the city through the lens of contemporary Japanese anime and film
  • Japanese Horror analyzes Japanese horror cinema in relation to the problem of modernity and contemporary socioeconomic issues in Japan today, traditional Japanese folklore and visual art, and conceptions of monstrosity
  • Japanese Sociolinguistics explores the relationship between Japanese social systems and values and the use of language
  • Chinese Flagship: Global Leadership and Change, taught exclusively in Chinese, analyzes the economic, environmental, and social problems that face Chinese speaking countries of the world and explore policies that might help alleviate these issues

See more courses in the Chinese Program

Interdisciplinary Opportunities

East Asian Languages and Literatures is, by its nature, interdisciplinary. You will learn from experts across the disciplines—Asian languages, history, music, politics and economics—to build a well-rounded understanding of Asian life. EALL students are also encouraged to take complimentary film studies or literature classes in other departments in order to form a basis for cultural comparison.

This program can be easily integrated with a major or minor in business, international studies, history, anthropology, or sociology. You might also combine it with courses in political science or ethnic studies if you have a strong interest in international relations.

Hands-on Learning

When learning foreign language and culture, there’s just no substitute for cultural immersion: Many EALL students spend a significant amount of time studying in China or Japan. The University of Oregon has one overseas study program in China and five in Tokyo, Japan. Students in University of Oregon overseas study programs enroll in courses with subject codes that are unique to individual programs.

The Student Experience

Dan Gearhardt had been interested in Chinese culture for years before he started at the UO as an architecture major. “After taking Chinese 101, I fell in love with the language even more,” he says, and soon changed his major to Chinese with a double minor in Business and Religious Studies. Although learning the language is challenging, he says that Professor Huang Laoshi is so passionate about teaching that the hard work becomes fun. Gearhardt combined his love for sports with an incredible learning experience, and spent the summer after his freshman year at an English language sports camp in Guangzhou, China. After graduation, he plans to live in China, teaching English and testing out job opportunities before attending graduate school there.

Natan Tubman began his Asian studies with a year of Japanese in high school and moved on to Chinese history and language courses in college. He chose the UO for its strong Chinese program and the assortment of study abroad programs available. Tubman declared a second major in economics and will eventually go on to study law. He also plans to study abroad at Nanjing University, using his advanced language background to register for courses with the Chinese student population instead of staying with international level classes. “I think that will offer me a much wider range of classes, as well as a real opportunity to learn what contemporary Chinese students are learning, the same way that they are taught,” he says. “This will be invaluable to my career in international law.”

Amy Fujii Ueno graduated from the International High School program at South Eugene High School. After considering out-of-state universities, she chose to stay in Eugene at the UO. “I realized that the UO has one of the largest East Asian language programs in the nation,” she says. “Some of them don’t go beyond fourth year language courses, and I was able to do that here, so I stayed.” While attending a national exchange program at the University of Massachusetts, she discovered an interest in landscape architecture and has declared another major in that field. After completing her first degree, she plans to participate in the UO’s Kyoto Summer Program in Japan while working on her degree in landscape architecture.

Featured Faculty

Professor Stephen Durrant teaches courses in early Chinese literature and Chinese narrative. His research is centered on the translation and interpretation of Chinese historical texts from the fourth to the first century B.C. Ongoing projects include a translation of Zuo Zhuan, a team project under contract with Yale University Press, and the second is a book on certain curious issues surrounding the formation of the Confucian canon.

Associate Professor Maram Epstein teaches introductory classes in Chinese film, narrative, and novels. Her research is focused on the cultural and aesthetic contexts of Ming-Qing novels, including concerns in the area of gender theory. She is now pursuing several linked projects concerning ritual, expression of emotions, the body, and representation of self.

Alisa Freedman is an assistant professor of Japanese. Her interests include literary translation projects, issues in Japanese literature, visual media, popular culture, and cultural history pertaining to gender, modernism and modernity, globalization, and urban studies.

Associate Professor Noriko Fujii teaches courses in Japanese language and linguistics. In addition to linguistics research, she has been involved in the development of Japanese language programs and teacher training programs.

Wendy Larson, professor of Chinese, teaches courses in gender studies, feminist theory and cultural studies. Her research interests also include the Cultural Revolution and sexuality in post-Mao Chinese culture.

Assistant Professor Daisuke Miyao specializes in Japanese literature and film, Asian studies, American studies and cultural studies. Miyao is the author of a new book on the early silent film career of Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa. “Sessue Hayakawa: Silent Cinema and Transnational Stardom” was published by Duke University Press in March 2007.

Wang Yugen, associate professor of Chinese, is interested in Classical Chinese poetry and poetics, with a special focus on the medieval period, from the Six Dynasties to the Northern Song.

Career Opportunities

The majors offered by the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures provide a valuable background for careers in international trade and commerce, government service, business consulting, or any field that requires fluency in Chinese or Japanese. With the wide variety of language and cultural skills acquired in this program, you might also teach at an international school. Many students use the major as a basis for advanced studies in law, business, or other graduate programs.

Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures