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Ph.D. in Chinese Literature and Culture

The Ph.D. program is designed to prepare students for a doctoral degree in Chinese literature and culture.

Students should consult the most up-to-date version of the degree plan on the Stanford Bulletin as well as the EALC Graduate Handbook. Each student should meet with their faculty advisor at least once per quarter to discuss the degree requirements and their progress.

Degree Requirements for the Ph.D. in Chinese Literature and Culture

Admission to Candidacy

Candidacy is the most important University milestone on the way to the Ph.D. degree. Admission to candidacy rests both on the fulfillment of department requirements and on an assessment by department faculty that the student has the potential to successfully complete the Ph.D.

Following University policy (GAP 4.6.1), students are expected to complete the candidacy requirements by Spring Quarter of the second year of graduate study.

Pre-Candidacy Requirements

  1. Demonstrate proficiency in modern Chinese by completing one of the tracks of third-year Chinese with a letter grade of B or higher or by demonstrating an equivalent level of linguistic attainment by passing the appropriate certifying examinations.
    • CHINLANG 103 - Third-Year Modern Chinese, Third Quarter (5 units)
    • CHINLANG 103B - Third-Year Modern Chinese for Bilingual Speakers, Third Quarter (3 units)
  2. Demonstrate proficiency in classical Chinese by completing one of the following advanced classical Chinese courses with a letter grade of B or higher.
    • CHINA 208 - Advanced Classical Chinese: Philosophical Texts (3-5 units)
    • CHINA 209 - Advanced Classical Chinese: Historical Narration (2-5 units)
    • CHINA 210 - Advanced Classical Chinese: Literary Essays (2-5 units)
  3. Students whose first language is not Chinese must complete both courses with a letter grade of B or higher.
    • CHINLANG 225 - Chinese through Modern Fiction (3 units)
    • CHINLANG 251 - Chinese for Academic Discussion and Reading (2 units)
  4. Proseminar sequence: Complete the following courses for a letter grade of B or higher.
    • EALC 201 - Proseminar in East Asian Humanities I: Skills and Methodologies (3 units)
    • EALC 202 - Proseminar in East Asian Humanities II: Current Scholarship (1 unit)
  5. Additional course requirements:
    • Four courses numbered above 200 in the field of China studies, at least two of which must be listed with the CHINA subject code, and the other two of which may be in different sub-fields such as anthropology, art history, history, philosophy, political science, religious studies, or another relevant field, as approved by the student’s advisor.
  6. Qualifying paper
    • All doctoral students must complete an MA qualifying paper. An MA thesis is accepted instead of a qualifying paper for students initially admitted as EALC MA students. Students seeking an MA en route to the PhD must secure approval from the primary advisor and submit an MA thesis.

    • A graded MA qualifying paper or thesis must be submitted to the DGS and SSO with an accompanying note from the student’s primary advisor by week five of spring quarter of the second year of study for the annual review and candidacy decision.

    • During the quarter when students complete the MA qualifying paper or thesis (25-30 pages), they must enroll in EALC 299.

Teaching Requirement

  1. Complete the following course during Spring Quarter of the year prior to serving as a teaching assistant. Typically, this occurs during Spring Quarter of the second year of graduate study.
    • DLCL 301 - The Learning and Teaching of Second Languages (3 units)
  2. Demonstrate pedagogical proficiency by serving as a teaching assistant for at least three quarters, starting no later than autumn quarter of the third year of graduate study. The department may approve exceptions to the timing of the language teaching requirement.

Post-Candidacy Requirements

  1. Demonstrate proficiency in at least one supporting language (beyond the near-native level required in Chinese and English) to be chosen in consultation with the primary advisor according to the candidate’s specific research goals. For this supporting language (typically Japanese, Korean, or a European language), students must be proficient at a second-year level at the minimum; a higher level of proficiency may be required depending on the advisor’s recommendation. Reading proficiency must be certified through a written examination or an appropriate amount of coursework to be determined on a case-by-case basis. This requirement must be fulfilled by the end of the fourth year of graduate study.

  2. Students in Chinese literature must take CHINA 291 - The Structure of Modern Chinese (2-4 units). Literature students must also take at least one EALC course in a field different from the student’s primary specialization (e.g., a modern literature course for students specializing in premodern literature, and vice versa, or a course in Japanese or Korean literature).

  3. Complete two relevant seminars at the 300 level. EALC 200 may be substituted for one of these two seminars.

  4. Pass three comprehensive written examinations, one of which tests the candidate’s methodological competence in the relevant discipline. The remaining two fields are chosen, with the approval of the student’s advisor, from the following: Chinese literature, Japanese literature, Korean literature, archaeology, anthropology, art history, comparative literature, communication, history, linguistics, philosophy, and religious studies. With the advisor’s approval, a PhD minor in a supporting field may be deemed equivalent to completing one of these three examinations.

  5. Students should submit a dissertation prospectus before advancing to Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR) status. The prospectus should comprehensively describe the dissertation project and include sections on the project rationale, key research questions, contributions to the field, a literature review, a chapter-by-chapter outline, a projected timeline, and a bibliography.

  6. Pass the University Oral Examination (dissertation defense). General regulations governing the oral examination are found in Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures (GAP 4.7.1). The candidate is examined on questions related to the dissertation after acceptable parts have been completed in draft form.

  7. Following university policy (GAP 4.8.1), submit a dissertation demonstrating the ability to undertake original research based on primary and secondary materials in Chinese.

Field Exam/Comprehensive Written Exam Instructions for Modern Chinese Literature Students

All students in the Ph.D. program in modern Chinese literature must pass three comprehensive written examinations (a.k.a. field exams or qualifying exams) by the end of their ninth quarter: Theory, Literature, and X. The theory exam tests the student’s competence in the fundamental methods and issues of literary and cultural studies. The literature exam tests the student’s familiarity with the basic canon of modern Chinese literature, representative texts in his or her own area/period/genre of interest, and the core secondary scholarship of the field. The third field (X) may be chosen, with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies in consultation with the student’s primary advisor from the following: comparative literature, premodern Chinese literature, linguistics, history, film, art history, philosophy, religious studies, archaeology, anthropology, political science, sociology, Japanese literature, Korean literature, FGSS, environmental humanities, digital humanities, or medical humanities. It is the student’s responsibility to secure a faculty member’s (EALC or non-EALC) consent to supervise the third exam. With the primary advisor's approval, a Ph.D. minor in a supporting field may be deemed equivalent to the completion of the third exam. Comprehensive/field exams must be completed before students can register for TGR; students should take their first field exam at the latest in the spring or summer quarter of their second year to be on track to complete all three exams by or before the end of their third year.

Students should prepare for each exam by taking the following steps:

  1. Prepare a reading list. Start with the core list and add 10-20 more titles that pertain directly to his/her own area/period/genre of interest; the list should be organized into 4-5 topics and must conform to a standard bibliographical style. Submit the list to both the primary advisor and field supervisor (if different) for approval.
  2. Set a date for the exam. Two weeks prior to the exam date, submit a list of 4-5 discursive questions each keyed to a topic in the reading list.
  3. On the day of the exam, the student receives three or four questions from which s/he chooses to answer two. Each exam essay should be 5-6 pages, double-spaced, and proofread. Footnote citations or a works cited list is not necessary. The allotted time for each exam is 4 hours with a half hour break. The exam may be administered by email.

The exam essays are evaluated for breadth, accuracy, and analytical acumen. Students will be graded on a scale from Fail to Pass and Pass with Distinction. A student who receives the "Fail" grade will be placed on probation and must retake the exam within three months. A second "Fail" grade will result in dismissal from the program.

Dissertation Prospectus Defense for the Ph.D. in Chinese Literature and Culture

The Dissertation Prospectus Defense constitutes the first step toward faculty approval for the student’s proposed dissertation project and should be completed before or soon after the student applies for external funding to conduct doctoral research - typically by Winter quarter of the fourth year, or no later than Spring quarter of the fourth year. The defense is a two-hour oral exam conducted by the student’s dissertation reading committee (minimum of three faculty members, including the primary advisor). The prospectus, 12-15 pages not including bibliography, must be submitted to the committee members at least two weeks prior to the defense.