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Research Clusters

Cherishing the academic aspiration and the schooling notion of “cultivating talents conversant with Chinese and Western cultures, versed in classic and up-to-date knowledge, well-trained in the Arts along with the Sciences”, the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Tsinghua University is endeavoring to break through the traditional pattern of teaching, research and construction of teaching teams. With the recent establishment of its current eight research clusters, the Department aims at its future development as follows:

Language, Psychology, and Cognition

This group adopts diverse approaches (from theoretical linguistic perspectives to behavioral and neuroimaging studies) to explore the nature of language, its development and use, with a focus on Mandarin Chinese and language development, literacy development and language disorder in the Chinese context. Some distinctive features of this group include expertise in psycholinguistics, language acquisition and development and formal linguistics, as well as "Center for the Study of Language and Psychology”, "Language Acquisition Lab" and "Child Cognition Lab”. Its work involves studies of Chinese syntax and semantics, syntactic disorder of Chinese aphasics, language development of normal and autistic children, early literacy in typically- and atypically-developing Chinese children. 

Linguistics, Education and Applied Sciences

By employing the theories of contemporary linguistics and education, the group researches on the teaching and application of languages, with a heavy touch on interdisciplinary and comprehensive studies. By means of combining theoretical research with education policies and everyday practice, it explores the acquisition, development and employment of language skills, and analyzes and evaluates the societal, cultural, political, and economical factors playing on language development and language education. The teaching of this group focuses on research and academics. Simultaneously, it pays attentions to the actual needs arising from students’ studies and researches, thus cultivating language talents with a global vision who are both innovative and collaborative, as well as talents of language education in a cross-cultural environment. Making use of the theoretical and research achievements of linguistics, sociology and psychology, it designs its curriculum following a comprehensive education of the Humanities, with a focus on the cultivation of the students’ capacity of language application, especially of bilingual and second language learning, of academic language acquisition, and of the socialization of language as well as its effectiveness.

Language, Culture and Society

Within the general field of Discourse Analysis and Text Linguistics, this faculty sector is characterized with “language-text-context” studies from theoretical and applied perspectives. It strikes a balance between speculative and empirical studies and attaches equal importance to written and spoken, literary and non-literary texts, Western languages and the Chinese language, etc. The foci of research include textual/discursive structure, interpersonal verbal interaction, intertextuality, gender, identity construction, critical/multimodal/cognitive discourse studies, and language teaching, etc. which intersect a wide range of fields such as functional linguistics, pragmatics, stylistics,  semiotics, poetics, narratology, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, anthropology, and cross-cultural communication studies.

Western Literature and Literary Criticism

Putting emphasis on the fundamentals and on the research of classics, and setting the exploration into pioneering researches as the main direction of researching and teaching, this group stands on its competitive subjects of British Literature, American Literature, German Literature and their criticism history, it also intends to broaden its research scope to cover the research on French Literature and Russian Literature. This group is supposed to maintain its academic competitiveness at home on subjects like British, American and German Literature as well as on literary criticism, and to maintain its position as basic subjects in the first-level discipline of Foreign Languages and Literatures. It will prioritize the research and teaching on eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century Western Literature, with extensive discussion on the complex relationship and the tension between literary arts and Industrial Revolution, among political, societal and cultural transformations. It also seeks to inherit and carry forward the characteristics of Chinese as well as Tsinghua’s academic tradition, to establish itself as a leading institution among fellows at home within five years, and to make itself heard in the international academia.

 Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies

This group conducts research on national/ethnical literature from a transnational, transcultural, translingual and interdisciplinary perspective. At the same time, it pays close attention to the up-to-date discussion and exploration of literary and cultural theories. With “world poetics” as the construct of an important genre and as the focal and breakthrough point of the academics at this stage, it aims to assist a solid development on world literature and theories, renew the interpretation of literary phenomena in both East and West, and make contributions in the field of literary criticism, acknowledged by the academia both domestically and internationally.

Eastern Asian Languages and Cultures

On the basis of maintaining, strengthening, and advancing the teaching and research levels of Japanese Language and Literature, this group aims to complete the transformation of itself into an academic community studying Eastern Asian Languages and Cultures, and to establish an Eastern Asian Languages and Cultures discipline that is of internationally outstanding academic levels and of Tsinghua’s own characteristics. The research conducted by this group employ the languages, literatures, histories, societies, and cultures of Eastern Asian region as the main subject matters, with emphasis placed both on specific regions (such as China, Japan and South Korea), and on the cultural, economic interrelationships among nations and regions. While discussing the correlation and blending among the regions in East Asia, the group is also dedicated to the understanding of differences between countries and peoples, and to the offering of more arguments in the humanities and social sciences fields of study for common ground seeking. In a globalized world, this discipline wishes to redefine the Eastern Asian idea, to offer the world a new interpretation of East Asia, and to promote deep-level cross-cultural dialogues, as well as diverse perspectives. The group proposes to achieve its overall construct of its Eastern Asian Languages and Cultures discipline in 2020.

Translation Studies and Cross-cultural Studies

This group works on the research of translation in itself, covering a wide range from translation theories, translation history, translation criticism, to translation practice and the extensional researches on translation, etc. The researches employ any cultural phenomenon that is disseminated through and impacted by translations as their subject matters, which include research fields such as literature, ideology, history, culture and language. It encourages its members to produce translation works of high quality. Meanwhile, it advocates the practice of combining translation practice with theoretical research, carrying forward the fine traditions of translators of previous generations. It insists the Tsinghua tradition of the elder generations, i.e., being both a translator and an expert at the same time, striving to establish a “Tsinghua Style” in the field of Chinese translation.

History of Literature, Idea and Civilization

This group plans to build within five years a fairly well-rounded course system of History of Literature, Intellectual History and History of Civilization, a full-fledged curriculum for graduate students. It is going to experiment joint degree graduate programs, as well as a bi-degree awarding system with universities overseas. In terms of research, it works on building a high-level, international research team that may rewrite the history of literature, the intellectual history and the history of social cultures in its opening up to various cultures. At the same time, it offers multi-dimensional interpretations to literary works and all kinds of text materials including supra-literal texts by touching upon the rhythm of history, so as to develop academic principles and schools of thought. What’s more, it attempts to explore new visions with which to research on a world history and a historiographical history that accommodates the academics in both China and the West.


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