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lgw28

MA in Chinese Literature

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lgw28

I'm very interested in getting a MA in Chinese Literature, possibly at a Chinese university. I was wondering if there was anyone who has done this who could share their experience? I have a pretty high level of Chinese right now. This upcoming year, I will be studying at IUP at 清华大学, which hopefully will give me the ability to have a more academic-level Mandarin. I took the foundational courses for Classical Chinese during my undergraduate years, but I was a linguistics major, not a Chinese studies or Chinese literature major. I have a really strong undergraduate GPA, but I'm just not sure that I would be able to handle an MA with students probably coming in with a much higher level of foundational knowledge. I'm pretty sure all MAs in Chinese literature will require an HSK level 6. I'm at an HSK 5 right now (maybe a 6 if there was no time limit) but I'm hoping to be at a level 6 by the end of next year. The problem is I would have to apply this upcoming fall, so I'm not sure I would even be eligible to apply without HSK 6 certification. If anyone knows the answer to that as well, I would be very grateful. 

 

I'm very grateful for any information you would be able to share! Thanks!! 

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OneEye

At your level, a year at IUP should get you well past HSK 6, which you'll absolutely need if you're doing an MA in Chinese Literature. IUP's curriculum is similar to ICLP in Taiwan, and their primary objective is to get you to a professional/academic level in Chinese within a year. It's extremely intensive. Apparently ICLP's website used to say "Come suffer with us!" at the top.

 

I can't speak to programs in China, but in Taiwan (my master's coursework was in Chinese Paleography and Linguistics, which is in the same department as Chinese Literature), the fact that my undergrad wasn't in Chinese meant that, had I finished my master's, I would have been required to take extra undergrad classes in 文字學、聲韻學、訓詁學, and several other disciplines. It would have added an additional year to my degree, at least, so make sure you find out about that before enrolling (I wasn't told until the day I signed up for my first semester's classes). Plus, you won't be able to read as quickly as native speakers can, so the degree will likely take you a bit longer than it will for them anyway.

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lgw28

Thanks for the info! That makes a lot of sense. Do you know if you can apply without HSK 6 certification? Ideally, I wanted to go for an MA right after I finish at IUP, but i'm not entirely sure whether that is possible. Also, if anyone has any suggestions on good MA programs, I'd be very grateful. I'm open to MA programs anywhere, but the US is just so expensive for a masters that I've been thinking getting an MA abroad would be better. My Professor told me about a program at University of Hamburg as well as the program at UC boulder, but that's about all I've been able to gather. 

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Bibu

I would suggest you talk to the University directly, consult Confucius institute could be a good start.

 

Below is some  university with renowned chinese literature: 北京大学, 南京大学, 中山大学, 北京师范大学

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洋人丹

I did a masters in Ancient literature at Fudan. I can try answer any questions if you have them.

 

When you say "Chinese literature" do you want to do modern or ancient? These are two different degrees in China, and the content and research methods tend to be very very different for each.

 

For most schools, I believe an HSK 5 of over a certain score should be fine, but to be honest, it would not be enough for the degree. You will be writing term papers and a thesis in Chinese, classes will be in Chinese, reading lots of Chinese literature, etc. You should be sure that you feel comfortable with doing all of these before applying. Many people want to rush into it and then struggle. It's much better to take some time to be prepared.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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lgw28

Yea I totally agree with you. That's why I'm doing IUP because even though on paper my Chinese can seem pretty advanced, I knew it needed to be pushed to the extreme to be able to complete a degree in Chinese literature. 

 

I'm more interested in ancient Chinese literature. I really enjoy studying Classical Chinese and reading classical texts, but I must admit I don't have much experience with more modern Chinese literature. 

 

My biggest concern, independent of whether I actually have the requisite level of Chinese, is that it seems to me in the US that it is not uncommon to get an MA in a field separate from your undergraduate field, but I'm not sure whether that's the case in China. I only started getting into Classical Chinese literature at the end of my undergraduate career, so I have a basic foundation, but definitely not enough. While at IUP next year I hope to continue studying Classical Chinese, but even then it doesn't compare with having four years of undergraduate experience.  

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洋人丹

 

It's the same in China, many people who do classical literature didn't study it in undergrad, and many aren't even really that interested in it, doing it to be able to have a higher degree for a better job. You can have no foundation and still do fine.

 

I don't think you need to be worried about not having too much knowledge, though of course it would help to better familiarize yourself with things to be better oriented when you begin the masters. Also its fine not to have great reading skills in classical Chinese, most Chinese students have very sub-par reading skills.

 

Fair warning, I really like classical literature, but ended up moving to philosophy for my doctorate. I think the field of classical literature has kind of stagnated in a lot of ways.

 

 

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lgw28

Wow I definitely didn't anticipate that! Do you have any suggestions for programs? Outside of China is okay too. I'm just trying to get as much information and do as much research as possible before making any concrete decisions. This thread has been super helpful!

1 hour ago, 洋人丹 said:

Fair warning, I really like classical literature, but ended up moving to philosophy for my doctorate. I think the field of classical literature has kind of stagnated in a lot of ways.

Thanks for the warning! I have sort of talked to my Classical Chinese professor about this as well. She said that (for job-security) studying pre-modern texts is the best way to go. That was unfortunate for her because she focused on Tang poetry. She did express some of her frustrations that the field operated like this and I understand her concerns. Of course, I'm not sure if she was only speaking about the field in America or in general. 

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洋人丹

 

I'm not so sure about outside of China (I've lived in China for my entire adult life so I don't know much about how many things are in the US now), but I imagine there aren't actual degrees in "Modern Chinese literature" or "ancient Chinese literature" like there are in China. Would it generally fall under comparative literature or "Asian Studies"? I honestly don't know and am curious.

 

I wouldn't say that studying pre-modern texts is the only way to go. There is plenty of research on modern and contemporary literature, particularly in China. It's in most ways a much more vibrant field than ancient literature. 

 

My issues with ancient literature as a field is more methodological than anything else. It often feels like there isn't much new happening. There are a lot of conclusions and narratives (and methodologies) that have been basically unchanged for the past 30-40 years. 

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