Chinese Department


Chinese characters

The Chinese major at Reed combines thorough training in spoken and written Chinese language with the development of critical approaches to a broad range of Chinese cultural phenomena, including classical and modern literature, film, and popular culture, and underlying aspects of philosophical and social thought.

The department offers Chinese language courses in modern Chinese at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels, and in Classical Chinese. Beginning and intermediate courses are designed to provide students with a strong foundation in functional Chinese and train students to use their language skills to navigate diverse situations in everyday and professional settings. Advanced Chinese courses focus on students' acquisition of near-native fluency in spoken Chinese, competence in reading a variety of contemporary texts (with a dictionary), and the ability to make use of different registers and genres of Chinese in writing. A one-semester course in Classical Chinese introduces students to classical grammar and vocabulary and trains them to read, analyze, and translate premodern texts in the original.

Courses in Chinese literature, media, and film help students become proficient at research, problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication through engaging in interdisciplinary, cross-linguistic, cross-cultural, and comparative literary and historical analyses of works from major genres and traditions spanning the last 3,000 years of China cultural history. All courses are taught in English, using texts in translation. Students may enroll in the courses as either Literature (LITC) or Chinese (CHIN). For the latter, an additional conference hour will be arranged for students to work with original texts. Courses in related subjects, such as Chinese intellectual history, are also offered.

The department also participates in the interdisciplinary humanities course "Foundations of Chinese Civilization" (Humanities 231/232). These courses are a requirement for Chinese majors. 

The Chinese house is an on-campus residence hall for returning students who demonstrate at least second-year language proficiency. It is the center of extracurricular activities for students interested in Chinese culture. Student residents converse primarily in Chinese, and are aided by the Chinese language scholar who is also housed there. The Chinese House hosts a number of cultural events to which all interested students are invited. These range from campus-wide cultural events like the Mid-Autumn Festival and Lunar New Year celebrations to smaller, informal gatherings, such as film screenings, conversation tables, poetry readings, and tea tastings, which provide unique opportunities for Reed students to practice their Chinese skills and enjoy art, meals, and good company.