AMES 190S/LIT 190S/POLSCI 190S: Global China

Reader requirements: Readers don’t need to be overly familiar with course content or be a China expert. The professor would like students to get an outsider’s view on how effectively they have introduced a specialized issue to a general audience.

If you have worked intensively on editing specialized, academic or journalistic writing, that could make you an especially good reader for this course, though that kind of experience is not a requirement.

  1. Course Information
  2. Schedule
  3. Giving Feedback

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Xuenan Cao

Course Description:

Global awareness has been one key aspect of the university education in the U.S., given the importance transnational trade and communication.  Students can benefit greatly from an in-depth examination of the making of the contemporary China. This course aims to familiarize students with some salient themes in modern China and critical perspectives in understanding issues of communication in an intercultural context. As a broad, accessible introduction to contemporary (1980-) social, political, and cultural contexts of China, this course examines transnational production and circulation of literary and artistic works, including literature, cinema, and contemporary art. All interests in sinological studies and studies in cultural theory involving China and the world cut across several disciplines: comparative literature, anthropology, history, philosophy, film studies, and cultural studies.

Communication between China and the West takes place in exchanges of culture, language, and consumer goods. How do these transactions correlate with each other in a global setting? For example, what is the significance of cigarettes and faces in networking in China? ? Throughout the course, students will be exposed to research in an array of theoretical approaches to culture, although we will not be reading “theory” as such. English materials are used in this course. Students will be encouraged to read the Chinese original of literary and artistic works, but Chinese reading knowledge is not a requirement for the class. As the term progresses, readings will become progressively lighter, with an increasing focus on multi-media sources, such as film, art, etc. The class will also explore issues of consumption, class, ethnicity, and gender through specific communication scenarios.

Student Writing:

What are students writing/presenting to reader? A commentary and a critical essay.

The commentary should act as a working introduction to a larger question that will be explored later in the critical essay. It should show readers why this is an interesting question through some basic research. Commentary should be more exploratory and more descriptive than argumentative. Commentary should highlight one issue relating to contemporary China.

The critical essay should be a critical reflection on any topic related to the content of the class.

For whom (is there an audience to keep in mind, beyond just the professor)? Readers outside of the classroom should be able to understand the written materials without having read the assigned materials. Consider the writing a public forum where the learned students will explain cultural and political issues to people unfamiliar any of the topics of the class. 

Where would such writing typically be found? Cultural criticism, book/film reviews. One can find those on major news papers.  

Why would someone usually read it? For general interests in topics related to China.

This course aims to help students develop clarity, fairness and concreteness in their writing. If they are also able to develop complexity within their writing as well, all the better.

Schedule (Student – Reader Interactions):

These are the deadlines for this course as they pertain to the reader project:

Introductory Meeting: Students should schedule an introductory meeting with their Reader no later than Sept 27. Students should share their ideas for their Commentary Assignment with their readers during this meeting. Readers should provide some feedback about this commentary to Student in advance of second meeting.

Second Meeting: Students and Readers should conduct their 2nd meeting no later than Oct 25. Commentary revisions should be discussed and work should begin towards critical essay.

Third Meeting: Students and Readers should conduct their 3rd meeting no later than Nov 22.  Student should present a draft of their critical essay to their Reader during this meeting (if possible to send the draft of critical essay to Reader in advance of this meeting, all the better). Reader and student will determine in this meeting, what if any additional feedback the reader will be providing on the critical essay draft and when.

Link to Course Syllabus:


Giving Feedback

Giving feedback is the activity around which the entire project is designed. You may have considerable professional experience giving feedback on writing — whether to colleagues, employees, or other contexts — or perhaps this is an fairly novel experience. Given the aims and nature of the Reader Project, we are hoping that our volunteers engage with student writing in a particular way–one that is quite different from what is conventionally done in other contexts.

The primary aim of the project is to help students really understand what it means to write for readers, rather than as a school assignment. Think about the following when you give feedback, whether in writing or in real time:

  • Respond as a reader rather than as an editor. (They can get basic editorial help from others.) Focus on sharing your reactions to the draft as a user of such writing. What are you thinking as you read? More