01:165:211 Language and Identity in Modern Chinese Societies

Language use is inevitably intertwined with identity portrayal and perception in any society. This course will introduce students to fundamental concepts in sociolinguistics and current issues in language and society. We will then examine how identities are retained and shaped through language choice and language use by people in the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, the U.S. and other Chinese diaspora communities. Students will gain a critical understanding of how ethnic diversity, geography, linguistic heritage, social experimentation, and rapid modernization and globalization have affected language use and the forming of social identity in modern Chinese societies.

By the end of the course, students will be able to identify and explain the roles social, historical and political contexts play in shaping the portrayal and perception of human identities as individuals and as groups through language use, and in particular, contexts that are unique to Chinese societies. Topics include language in relation to ethnic identity, migrant identity, workplace identity, gender identity, national identity, Chinese-American identity, identity under globalization, and online identity.

Course Materials: Textbook: Trudgill, Peter. (2000) Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society, 4th ed. Harmondsworth: Penguin (recommended but not required), Other readings: Journal articles and other book chapters listed in the weekly readings will be available on Canvas, Handouts and PowerPoint slides: The handouts and PowerPoint slides used in the lectures will be available on Canvas

Grading: Attendance & Participation 10%, Pair projects 20%, Group presentations 20%, Film discussions 10%, Mid-term Exam 20%, Final Project 20%

You are expected to attend class and actively participate in all class discussions and activities. You are allowed no more than two absences without a Dean’s excuse. You are expected to complete the assigned readings before each class. Absences can be excused only for religious reasons (must be reported in advance), or documented emergencies (official documents must be provided). Absences related to Covid-19 may be excused in accordance with guidelines from the university. If you expect to miss a class, please use the university absence reporting website (https://sims.rutgers.edu/ssra/) to indicate the date and reason for your absence.

You will work with a partner to complete two pair projects over the course of the semester. For Pair Project 1: Discourse analysis, you will record a conversation and analyze it with the sociolinguistic tools discussed in class. For Pair Project 2: Language reform, you will make a poster to propose a language reform. Specific instructions for the projects will be distributed a week before the due date. You will have opportunities in class to prepare for the presentations. These projects are turn-in assignments. Late submissions within one week of the due date will be docked by 10% for each day they are late. Assignments submitted one week after the due date will not be accepted.

You will work in small groups of 3-4 to complete two group presentations over the course of the semester. For Presentation 1: Mini Documentary, you will film a 10-minute interview in English with a native-speaker of a Chinese dialect. For Presentation 2: Mini Survey, you will design, distribute and analyze a survey, and then give a presentation on your findings (10 minutes per group). Specific instructions for the projects will be distributed two weeks before the due date. You will have opportunities in class to prepare for the presentations. These presentations are graded assignments.

We will screen 3 films throughout the semester. We will watch about 60 minutes of the film and spend 20 minutes for discussion. For the film response, you may post a short written or spoken response. These responses are turn-in assignments.

The mid-term is an in-class exam consisting of term identification, short response and essay questions on materials covered in Modules 1~5. Rescheduling of the mid-term exam is only possible for officially excused absences or conflicts (official documents must be provided). You can only reschedule the mid-term exam if you receive permission from the instructor in advance.

The Final Project is a research project proposal. The topic of the project must be related to the course materials. The 5-page proposal (size 12 font, double space) must include rationale for study, brief overview of previous studies, sociolinguistic tools that will be used to conduct the study, and predicted outcome. Specific instructions for the final project will be distributed two weeks in advance. You will have the opportunity to share your project idea and receive feedback from your instructor and classmates. The research project proposal may be developed into your senior thesis or honors thesis. This is a graded assignment. You must submit the proposal as a Word file via the assignment link on Canvas.