ASN Profile: Lana Zhang’s ECNU American Studies Experience

July 10, 2018

Topic(s):

Lana Zhang is a second year masters’ student in American Studies at East China Normal University (ECNU) in Shanghai, China. She recently spoke with USCET about her experiences in the American Studies program and about what she hopes to use her degree to accomplish in the future.

Zhang became interested in American Studies as an undergraduate student at ECNU, during which time she was studying English Language and Literature. Zhang described that she was initially drawn to American literature because she found it “fascinating.” Then, after meeting Professor Jin Hengshan, her current supervisor in American Studies, she knew that she wanted to take more classes in the department.   

Zhang explained that Professor Hengshan, who received his PhD. from Peking University, “is the master in this research field.” “I got to know him well,” she continued.

In her final year of undergraduate study, Zhang successfully obtained a postgraduate recommendation from ECNU to go directly into its American Studies Master’s program.

Zhang’s program is both intense and comprehensive. In addition to reading American poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, students take classes in American history and society. Her professors emphasize that understanding American literature’s historical and social context is critical to effectively analyzing it. The program also offers highly specialized classes: “Literature & Film Studies,” “Literature & Drama,” and “Feminist Literature,” for example.

Moreover, students in the ECNU American Studies program are required to learn a second foreign language. Zhang chose Japanese. “It helped me to some degree to understand Japanese-American literature,” she said.

Zhang has also had the opportunity to study abroad twice, once in the United Kingdom and once in the United States. When she was in America, she was based at different universities but often visited historical sites, including the White House and the United States’ Congress. “[Seeing everything] was just like in the movies,” Fang exclaimed.

During her interview, Fang’s interest in American Studies was clear. When asked about her favorite book, for example, she laughed and replied that she “[couldn’t] decide.” “There are too many good ones,” she said. Right now, Fang is reading Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. She also shares that she is particularly interested in “cross-cultural studies,” “travel writings written by American authors during their stays in China,” and “Chinese-American” literature.

Zhang has just submitted her research proposal for her Master’s Thesis. She has chosen to write on the evolution of American literature during the 1950’s, with a focus on Richard Yates’ novel The Revolutionary Road. In the future, Zhang is considering pursuing a PhD in American Studies because, in her words, she is “dedicated to continuing with this degree.” After her schooling, she hopes to become a professor or academic.

American Studies lies at the core of USCET’s organizational mission. This profile is part of a series to highlight various students across China who are majoring in American Studies and who plan to use it in their careers. 

 

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现在研究生二年级的张就读于位于中国上海的华东师范大学美国研究中心。中美教育基金最近对她就美国研究的经历及对未来的筹划进行了一次采访。

张在华东师范大学就读本科时就对美国研究产生了兴趣。当时她主修英语语言文学,形容自己刚开始接触美国文学的经历形容是“令人着迷的。”当遇见后来成为她研究生导师的金衡山教授后,她知道她还想上更多这方面的课。

张解释说,北京大学博士毕业的金教授是这个专业领域里的权威,她需要多接触他。

本科学习的最后一年,张成功取得了华东师范大学美国研究的研究生保送名额。华东师范大学美国研究中心的研究生项目,除了研读美国诗歌,小说和非虚构类文学之外,还要求学生学习美国社会和历史。张的教授强调,理解美国文学背后的历史和社会背景对于分析作品十分关键。美国研究也提供一些专项研究的课程,例如“文学和电影研究”“文学和戏剧”“女权主义文学”等等。同时,美国研究的学生还需要学习第二外语。张选择了日语,“学日语能一定程度帮我理解日裔美国文学”

张有过两次海外交流的经历,一次在英国,一次在美国。在美国交流期间,张大部分时间都在大学校园内,但她经常去参观历史建筑,包括美国白宫和国会山。她感叹道,“看到这些东西让我感觉仿佛在电影里。”

采访期间,张对于美国研究的兴趣显而易见。被问及最喜欢的书,张笑道,“太多好的书了,没法决定。” 张现在正在读拉尔夫·埃尔森的《看不见的人》。张告诉USCET她对跨文化研究,美国作者在中国的旅行写作以及华裔美国作者也非常感兴趣。

张刚刚递交了她研究生论文的研究计划。她选择研究1950年代美国文学的变化发展,并着重研究理查德·耶茨的《革命之路》。张考虑未来去美国攻读博士。用她自己的话说,她“想致力于这个专业。”张希望完成学业之后她能成为教授或者学者。

美国研究是中美教育基金的核心使命之一。本篇特稿是USCET对主修美国研究并有意于之后在领域内发展的中国学生的系列采访之一。