John D. Berninghausen Professor of Chinese
John D. Berninghausen Professor of Chinese Thomas (Tom) Moran has a Ph.D. in modern Chinese literature from Cornell University and has been at Middlebury since 1994. He teaches courses in modern and contemporary Chinese literature and Chinese film, as well as Chinese language. He has twice served as Chair of the Middlebury Chinese Department (2001-2004 and 2006-2008) and has also served as the Director of East Asian Studies (2009-2011), acting director of the Literature Program (2009-2010), and director of the C.V. Starr Middlebury School in China, Beijing (spring 2011).
Tom has published translations of modern and contemporary Chinese plays, short stories, film scripts and essays and is the editor of The Dictionary of Literary Biography: Chinese Fiction Writers, 1900-1949 (Gale, 2007) and co-editor of The Dictionary of Literary Biography: Chinese Fiction Writers, 1950-2000 (Gale, 2012).
Tom has been affiliated with Middlebury's program in environmental studies since 2004 and has taught the first-year seminar "The Culture of Nature in China." His article "Lost in the Woods: Nature in Soul Mountain" (Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, Vol 14, No 2, Fall 2002), which is a study of a novel by Nobel Laureate Gao Xingjian, was one of the first works of ecocriticism about modern Chinese literature. His current research focuses on the origins and development of nature writing in contemporary China and Taiwan. Tom spent the spring semester of 2012 in Beijing doing research on a Fulbright Senior Research Grant.
Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
CHNS 0101 - Beginning Chinese ▲
This course is an introduction to Mandarin (guoyu or putonghua). The course begins with simple words and phrases, the pronunciation and cadences of Mandarin, romanization, Chinese characters, and simple vocabulary items, all taught in the context of practical communication. Sentence patterns and other fundamentals of speaking, reading, and writing will be taught, including both traditional characters (used everywhere before the 1950s and still used in Taiwan and Hong Kong) and simplified characters (used in China). Students should have achieved active command of more than 600 Chinese characters and more than 800 compounds by the end of the sequence CHNS 0101, CHNS 0102, CHNS 0103. 5 hrs. lect., 2 hrs. drill
Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013
CHNS 0102 - Continued Beginning Chinese
An intensive continuation of CHNS 0101, this course is required of those wishing to take CHNS 0103 in the spring. Students may anticipate learning a significant amount of new vocabulary, sentence patterns and idiomatic expressions. Skits, oral presentations, writing assignments, and cultural activities are also part of this course. (CHNS 0101)
CHNS 0103 - Beginning Chinese ▹
This course is a continuation of the fall and winter terms with accelerated introduction of vocabulary, grammar, and sentence patterns designed to facilitate speaking and reading. Toward the end of this semester students will read Huarshang de meiren (Lady in the Painting), a short book written entirely in Chinese. (CHNS 0102 or equivalent) 5 hrs. lect., 2 hrs. drill
Spring 2010, Spring 2013, Spring 2014
CHNS 0220 - Modern Chinese Literature ▹
Modern China through Literature (in translation)
This course, taught in English, is a discussion-based seminar on some of the most significant works of short fiction, novellas, and novels that tell the story of China and the Chinese from the end of the Qing dynasty to the present. Students will gain a better understanding of the history of modern China by studying the works of literature that inspired readers and provoked debate during one hundred years of social reform, revolution, war, civil war, reconstruction, cultural revolution, cultural revival, and economic growth. Our reading will include work by authors such as Lu Xun (Diary of a Madman, 1918), Zhang Ailing (Love in a Fallen City, 1944), Ah Cheng (The Chess King, 1984), Yu Hua (To Live, 1993), and, from Taiwan, Zhu Tianwen (Notes of a Desolate Man, 1999). We will consider the mainstream (socially engaged realism), the avant-garde (varieties of modernism), and popular genres (romance and martial arts), and we will look for answers to the following questions: what has been the place of fiction in China in the modern era and what vision of modern China do we find in its fiction? (No prerequisites) 3 hrs. lect./disc.
Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2014
CHNS 0250 / FMMC 0250 - Chinese Cinema ▲
This course, taught in English, surveys the history of movies in China since the 1930s and also offers an in-depth look at the work of: China's fifth-generation directors of the 1980s and their successors up to the present; Taiwan's new wave; and Hong Kong popular cinema, including martial arts film. Our focus is the screening and discussion of films such as The Goddess (a 1934 silent classic), Stage Sisters (1965; directed by the influential Xie Jin), the controversial Yellow Earth (1984), In the Heat of the Sun (a 1994 break with the conventional representation of the Cultural Revolution), Yang Dechang's masterpiece A One and a Two (2000), and Still Life (Jia Zhangke's 2006 meditation on displacement near the Three Gorges Dam). The course is designed to help students understand the place of cinema in Chinese culture and develop the analytical tools necessary for the informed viewing and study of Chinese film. We will look at everything from art film, to underground film, to recent box office hits. (No prerequisites) One evening film screening per week. 3 hrs. lect./disc.
Fall 2009, Fall 2013
CHNS 0340 - Contemp Chns Lit/Cult
Literature and Culture in the People's Republic of China (in translation)
The final focus of this course is what is happening in Chinese culture right now, but to understand now we must understand then, and so we will begin in the 1950s. In China from 1949 through the 1980s cultural activity was regarded as exerting, in Mao's words, an "enormous influence" on politics and was therefore placed under prescriptive guidelines. Writers and artists agreed that their work was important but chafed at restrictions. Since the 1990s constraints on cultural life have eased, but because Chinese literature and culture now answer to the market rather than ideology some ask if it still matters. We will try to answer this question as we trace fifty years of developments in Chinese culture in their surprising complexity. We will look at developments in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, feature and documentary film, stage drama, television, popular music, visual art, and internet fiction. Students will undertake research projects, and we will discuss research methodology. (One Chinese course in literature or culture, or by waiver) 3 hrs. sem.
Fall 2010, Spring 2013
CHNS 0500 - Independent Project ▲ ▹
Fall 2009, Winter 2010, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014
CHNS 0700 - Senior Essay ▲ ▹
Fall 2009, Winter 2010, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014
CHNS 0701 - Senior Thesis Research ▲
Senior Thesis Proposal
CHNS 0702 - Senior Thesis ▹
FYSE 1361 - Intro to Contemporary China
Introduction to Contemporary Chinese Culture, Politics, and Society
Is China poised to rule the world? Are we already living in the shadow of China’s economic dominance? Is China’s soft power transforming global culture? Is China a fragile superpower? In this seminar we will prepare to answer these questions, all of which have been raised in recently published books, by studying some of the important people, events, ideas, stories, and films in 20th- and 21st-century China. Our inquiry will be guided by the assumption that we cannot understand what China’s rise means until we acquire a basic understanding of Chinese culture, politics, and society. 3 hrs. sem.
IGST 0500 / INTL 0500 - EAS Independent Research
East Asian Studies Independent Project
Winter 2010, Winter 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2013
Expertise and Research Interests
Modern Chinese fiction
Chinese nature and landscape literature