Department of Literature and Art
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Beijing Normal University’s Literary Theory discipline enjoys a solid foundation and a long academic tradition. In 1953, China’s first teaching and research office of literary theory was established. Under the guidance of Huang Yaomian, a famous literary theorist, the office formulated China’s first syllabus of Introduction to Literary Theory and set up the country’s first postgraduate program. In 1983, it set up China’s first doctoral degree program of literary theory. Since 1987, the faculty has been committed to innovation and academic research under the leadership of Professor Tong Qingbing, and had great impact on national and international academic circles. In 2000, the BNU Research Center for Literature and Art, with Literary Theory as the major discipline, was approved as one of the 100 key humanities and social sciences research bases by the Ministry of Education. In 2001, the Literary Theory discipline was officially approved as a national key discipline. In 2003, with the establishment of the School of Chinese Language and Literature, the original Teaching and Research Office of Literary Theory was converted into the Department of Literature and Art.

The Department has a group of outstanding experts and scholars who engage in research on literary theory, aesthetics, and Chinese and Western literary theory. The first director was Professor Li Chunqing (from 2003 to 2008) and the first deputy director was Professor Ji Guangmao. The current director is Professor Zhao Yong, while the deputy director is Professor Chen Xuehu. The Department has a strong teaching and scientific faculty consisting of eight professors (Li Chunqing, Fang Weigui, Zhao Yong, Ji Guangmao, Chen Taisheng, Chen Xuehu, Yao Aibin and Qian Han), one associate professor (Lyu Li) and three lecturers (Zhang Bingwei, Liu Siyu and Li Sha). In 2013, Professor Fang Weigui was included in the list of specially invited professors of Changjiang Scholars Program.

The Department has been advocating and developing the research method of “cultural poetics” for over 20 years. The method draws upon the outstanding achievements in literary theory throughout human history in all over the world, but also is rooted in reality and actively involves and responds to the existing literary and cultural problems. The unique value of cultural poetics, as an open literature research approach, lies in its aim to transcend the narrow divide between “internal studies” and “external studies” and create balance between literature research and cultural research, thus achieving a new integration.

After many years of exploration and practice, the Department has produced many high-quality academic research results that both address practical problems and have significant impact. Members of the Department apply the method of cultural poetics to studying Chinese ancient, modern and contemporary literature, European and American literature and Russian/Soviet literature, in order to reveal their unique academic significance and discover the universal law of the relationship between literary phenomenon and social culture. Its research focus includes both exploring the formation mechanism and uniqueness of ancient Chinese literary thoughts and probing into the existing aesthetic cultural phenomenon; both describing and outlining the theories of Chinese literary experience and combing and reviewing western literary concepts. The ultimate purpose is to provide comprehensive and cutting-edge reference for the construction of contemporary Chinese literary theory. The main research interests of the Department are as follows:

I. Basic Literary Theory: The Department uses the research method of cultural poetics which combines cultural research and text analysis to study the basic literary theory with Chinese characteristics and its branches, including literary psychology, literary sociology, literary stylistics, literary semiotics and literary rhetoric.

II. Literary Aesthetics: Research on literary aesthetics seeks a deeper understanding of the internal law of aesthetics, literature and art based on the basic academic pattern of contemporary humanities in order to foster contemporary aesthetic consensus and promote building public value and cultural community.

III. Chinese Literary Theory: The Department also carries out all-round, multi-level and dynamic research on Chinese literary thought, covering literature, history and philosophy fields in the world culture context.

IV. Foreign Literary Theory and Comparative Literary Theory: The Department conducts research on the translation, evaluation, analysis and teaching of foreign literary theory, especially modern and contemporary literary theory and cultural research, such as studying Chinese contemporary literary and cultural changes from the theory of Frankfurt School, in order to provide new reference for the development, construction and realistic explanation of Chinese contemporary literary theory.

The Department has made outstanding achievements, which include the Literary Theory Course Review, The System of Chinese-Western Comparative Poetics, Annotation of Ancient Chinese Literary Theory, Research on Major Issues in Literature Creation of Historical Works, The History of Chinese Literary Theory Research in the 20th Century, The History of Literary Thoughts of Pre-Qin Period, Literary Psychology Series, Stylistic Series, Series of New Perspectives of Literary Theory, Series of Literary Theory and Cultural Studies, Generation of the Modern Form of Chinese Literary Theory, Cultural Origin of Chinese Ancient Literary Theory, National History of Marxist Literary Theory in the 20th Century. The Department also sponsors the academic publication Culture and Poetics, which is a CSSCI source journal, and has set up the academic website

It has undertaken more than 20 national and provincial-level projects such as the major projects of National Social Science Fund of China and major projects of the key research base of humanities and social sciences under the Ministry of Education. Since 2001, the Department has won science and technology achievement awards of or above provincial level for programs such as Modern Meanings of Modern Ancient Literary Theory, Occurrence of Chinese Modernity Experience, Poetry and Ideology, The Belt of Venus: Creation Aesthetics, On Characteristics of Literary Aesthetics; and won teaching achievement awards of or above provincial level for projects such as the national essential course of the Ministry of Education Introduction to Literary Theory, “Talents Training Mode Reformation and Discipline Construction of Literary Theory”, “Upgrading Literary Theory Curriculum System Through Two-way Expansion”, “Promoting the Teaching Reform and Textbook Construction of Literary Theory Program Under the Concept ‘Reproducing the Classic’”, and “Trans-century Action of Education Reform for the 21st Century of the School of Chinese Language and Literature”.

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