Students initiate the Junior Qual process by contacting the department 5-6 months before when they intend to take the Junior Qual examination. In that initial contact, students should communicate their intention to be a Chinese major, and have some general idea about their tentative senior thesis topic (for example, the genre, period, writer(s), etc. that might be treated in their thesis). Students will then be assigned to work with a Chinese department faculty adviser who will help guide them through the Junior Qual process.
The policies and practices of the Junior Qual differ from department to department. In the Chinese department, we view the Junior Qual as an opportunity for students to develop breadth and focus. On the one hand, students undertaking the Junior Qual will be assigned individually-designed reading lists crafted to fill in gaps in their education about China's rich and diverse literary and cultural traditions. On the other hand, students will develop a research topic of their own choosing, from initial conception through final paper.
By the end of the Junior Qual process, the Chinese Department requires that students submit the following three pieces of writing:
- A substantial research paper that is comparative in nature. While there are a wide range of possibilities for how that comparison may be done, students are encouraged to work across multiple periods and/or genres so as to highlight the breadth of their acquired competence and knowledge.
- A mature thesis proposal. A mature proposal should define the research topic and questions, explain its significance, outline the structure for the thesis, and include a plan that explains how the research would be conducted and a detailed timeline for the project's completion.
- An annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources that would be used in the writing of the senior thesis.
Once these three documents have been submitted, the department arranges an oral exam. All three members of the department and the student meet for about an hour, to discuss the comparative paper and the thesis proposal. At the end of the oral exam, the three faculty members, in the student's absence, decide if the student should pass, fail, or pass with conditions.
The senior thesis represents the culmination of your academic study at Reed and allows students to apply the frameworks and methodologies of literary study they have learned to research a topic of their own devising. Working in close consultation with a Chinese department faculty advisor and making use of both primary, Chinese-language sources and secondary sources in both English and Chinese, students will over the course of a year produce a 50-70 page essay. After the submission of their written thesis, students will defend their work in a one-hour long rigorous oral examination at the end of the semester.