Department of Chinese Folklore Studies
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Guided by a group of distinguished scholars in folklore studies, Beijing Normal University is hailed as a major center for teaching and researching Chinese folklore, folk literature and folk art. The past seven decades have seen the emergence of a large number of folklore specialists who have made remarkable contributions to the establishment and progress of Chinese folklore studies, and acted as inspiring role models for their peers on how to train professionals and how to make research findings that matter. Such a sense of mission and dedication do not go unnoticed. In 2001, the teaching and researching team won the First Prize of the National Teaching Excellence Awards.  

I History

The disciplinary history of studying folklore, folk literature and art in Beijing Normal University is glorious and splendid. In 1949, Professor Zhong Jingwen, the founding father of Chinese folklore studies, came to the University and put folk literature on the curriculum. In 1953, the University established graduate programs in folklore studies, the first of their kind in China. Two years later, China’s first institute of folk literature came into being on this campus. 

Eminent scholars in folklore studies like Zhang Zichen, Xu Yu, Chen Zi’ai, Qian Mingzi and Liu Tieliang had engaged in mentoring this program for a long time.

Since China’s Reform and Opening-up, this discipline has evolved into a new stage. In 1981, the discipline of folk literature in BNU was listed among the first batch of doctoral programs in the country; in 1988, it was accredited as a state key discipline; in 1996, it was included in major developing disciplines in the Project 211, a program initiated by the Ministry of Education (MOE), which intended to raise education standards in about 100 colleges and universities during the 21st century.

To enhance scientific research on how Chinese people integrate rich cultural tradition into daily life, the University in 1993 established the Institute of Chinese Folk Culture. The Institute organized academic events both at home and abroad on multiple occasions, and was equipped with China’s largest folk culture library, enabling easy access to 25,000 books and periodicals, providing an unmatched academic experience for scholars in this field. The Institute also hosts a folklore museum with technical equipment for fieldwork, teaching and research, the first of its kind among China’s universities and colleges.

It has established close communications with folklore institutions worldwide, such as Japan, the United States, South Korea, Russia, Germany, and teamed up with domestic counterparts including Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Peking University, Tsinghua University, Minzu University of China and Shandong University.

In 2002, after the state re-approval, the discipline of folklore studies was again accredited as a state key discipline.

The Department’s scholars have made outstanding performance at international exchange events. Yang Lihui, Kang Li and Peng Mu from the Department, representing the Chinese Folklore Society, have been core members of the evaluation body for UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage from 2015-2017.

II Faculty

Previously known as the Institute of Folklore Studies and Cultural Anthropology between 2000 and 2014, the Department of Chinese Folklore Studies integrates teaching, academic training, applied research, and international exchange to showcase new paradigms in the field of Chinese folk literature and folklore studies. In 2015, the Department got its current name.

It currently has six faculty members, including four professors: Wan Jianzhong, Yang Lihui, Kang Li and Thomas DuBois; one associate professor Peng Mu; and one lecturer Wang Yao. The current director is Professor Wan Jianzhong.

III Courses and Programs

The Department provides various research fields mainly including: Mythology, Folk Narratology, Gender Studies, Bodylore, Material Culture Studies, and Ethnography.

While engaging in thorough examination and study of historical literature, teachers and students of the Department are fully aware of the indispensable role of fieldwork. They aspire to do justice to our times and serve the society by collecting field information and drawing inspiration from observing and participating in the life of the people.

Courses dedicated to graduate program are as follows: Mythology, International History of Folklore Studies, Transcultural Folklore Studies, Cultural Sociology, Folk Beliefs Studies, Folk Organization and institutions, Religious Folklore, Folk Narratology, Introduction to Folk Literature and Art, Folk Crafts, Urban Folklore, and so on.

IV Research and Teaching Achievements

The Department has undertaken two major projects funded by the National Planning Office of Philosophy and Social Sciences (NPOPSS): “A History on the Study of Chinese Folk Literature in the 20th Century” and “The Creative Transformation of Chinese Mythological Resources and the Systematization in Contemporary Mythology”. Other projects financed by the NPOPSS include: “Research on the Protection of Folk Cultural Heritage and Social Development”, “Studies on Types of Chinese Folk Tales”, “The Mundaneness of Folk Literature and Its Theoretical Potentiality”, “Contemporary Transmission of Chinese Mythology: Focusing on Heritage Tourism and Digital Media”, and “A History of the Study of Folk Songs and Ballads in Modern China”.

One project was completed under the auspices of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), namely, “Ethnographic Research on Coastal Villages in the Jiangnan Area, China”. 

Two projects were commissioned by the Publicity Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. They are: “Rescue Project for China's Folk Cultural Heritage”, and “Investigation and Compilation of County/District-based Ethnography of Chinese Folk Culture”.

The Department took an active part in the Projects for the Safeguarding of National Folk Cultural Heritage initiated by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and carried out related research on Beijing commercial folk culture.

Scholars of the Department have won strong backing from the Ministry of Education. Various schemes launched by the MOE provide invaluable opportunities for these committed scholars to fulfill their potentials. In the Teaching and Research Award Program for Outstanding Young Teachers in Higher Education, they have undertaken the program of “Transmission and Variation of Contemporary Oral Myths”. Sponsored by the Scientific Research Starting Fund for the Returned Overseas Chinese Scholars, the Department completed a study on “Narration and Performance of Folk Narrative”. Under the Doctoral Program Funding, the scholars gave deep insight into the “Motif Index of Chinese Mythology”, as well as “A Study on Themes of Chinese Folk Prose Narrative”. Supported by the Youth Fund in Humanities and Social Sciences, they carried out a project entitled "Local Legends and Beijing Spirit: A Study on the Contemporary Continuation and Production Model of Urban Folk Narratives". Backed by the Program for Supporting Outstanding Talent of the New Century, the scholars showcased their high caliber in the research “A History of Chinese Folk Tales Studies in the 20th Century”.

The faculty members have won a number of awards from ministerial departments, Beijing Municipal Government and other prestigious foundations. They include: the first prize for higher education teaching achievements; national quality curriculum award; Literary Review Award from China Federation of Literary and Art Circles; Excellent Teacher Award, and the first and third prizes for outstanding achievements in social sciences presented by the MOE; the first and second prizes for outstanding achievements in philosophy, social sciences. First prize in teaching achievements in higher education, second prize in teaching skills in young university faculty members, given by Beijing Municipal Government; the second prize for research accomplishments awarded by the Fok Ying Tung Education Foundation. 

In addition, when Beijing Municipal Government gave awards for fine works for celebrating the 60th anniversary of the New China, the faculty members won the “Honor Award”, a tribute to their scholarly and creative undertakings. Meanwhile, they won “Mountain Flower Awards” on multiple occasions, which are presented by the Chinese Folk Literature and Art Association.

They also excel in compiling textbooks and providing quality courses in academic training. These textbooks are included in the Quality Textbooks Publishing Program for Higher Education. The course on folklore studies is accredited by the MOE as a national quality course and excellent resource-sharing course.

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