Thomas Moran

John D. Berninghausen Professor of Chinese

 work(802) 443-5870
 On leave 2017-2018
 Voter Hall 105

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, film, and documentary film, as well as in Chinese language, most often beginning Mandarin Chinese. He has taught First Year Seminars on the culture of mountains East and West, the discourse of nature in Chinese civilization and, most recently, “Fate, Filial Piety and Passion in Chinese Civilization.”

He has three times served as Chair of the Greenberg-Starr Department of Chinese Language and Literature and has 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). He has received grants from the Committee for Scholarly Communication with the People’s Republic of China, the Center for Chinese Studies at the National Library of Taiwan, the Blakemore Foundation, and the Fulbright Senior Scholar Program.

Tom has been affiliated with Middlebury's program in environmental studies since 2004. 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. He has published translations of selections from the late Chinese essayist and deep ecologist Wei An’s “Things on Earth,” which have appeared in “Mānoa,” “Cerise Press,” and the “New England Review.”

He is the editor of The Dictionary of Literary Biography: Chinese Fiction Writers, 1900-1949 (ThomsonGale, 2007) and co-editor of  The Dictionary of Literary Biography: Chinese Fiction Writers, 1950-2000 (Thomson, Cenage, 2013). He and a colleague are under contract to co-edit a volume for this same series on contemporary Chinese poets. Tom is devoting part of his 2017-2018 sabbatical to work on this project.

Tom has published translations of modern and contemporary Chinese plays, short stories, film scripts, and essays. Most recently he published translations of the short stories, “G is for Goddess,” by Chen Qiufan, and “The Philips Electric Razor,” by Zheng Xiaolü, both of which are in the book, “The Sound of Salt Forming: Short Stories by the Post-80s Generation in China,” edited by Song and Yang (University of Hawai’i Press, 2015). Tom and his Chinese Department colleague Jingling Chen have co-translated “Science Fiction Story,” a chapter of Luo Yijun’s recent novel, “Daughter,” and their translation is forthcoming in 2018 in an anthology of contemporary Chinese science fiction. During his current sabbatical leave Tom is translating the 2010 novel “Heaven / Tibet” by Ning Ken.

Before beginning graduate school at Cornell in 1984, Tom majored in Journalism, English, and Education at Syracuse University, worked as a carpenter’s assistant, taught sixth grade at the International School of Beijing, and taught eighth grade at Holy Redeemer School in Washington, D.C. Tom is from northern Virginia and now lives in Ripton with his wife, Rebecca Purdum (, and their 15-year-old Spring Spaniel, Louie (卢易). Tom and Rebecca volunteered for more than a decade as “citizen scientists” for the Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas, Vermont Forest Bird Monitoring Program and Mountain Birdwatch, and they spend as much time as they can outside learning as much as they can about flora and fauna.



Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

CHNS 0101 - Beginning Chinese      

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, and CHNS 0103. 5 hrs. lect., 2 hrs. drill LNG

Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

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CHNS 0102 - Continued Beginning Chinese      

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) LNG WTR

Winter 2017

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CHNS 0103 - Beginning Chinese      

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 LNG

Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

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CHNS 0201 - Intermed Chinese      

Intermediate Chinese
This course is designed to enable the student to converse in everyday Chinese and to read simple texts in Chinese (both traditional and simplified characters). Discussion of assigned readings will be conducted primarily in Chinese. Familiarity with the vocabulary and grammar introduced in CHNS 0101, CHNS 0102, and CHNS 0103 is assumed. Grammatical explanations, written exercises, dictation quizzes, sentence patterns, oral drill, and CD's will accompany assignments. By the completion of CHNS 0202, which follows CHNS 0201 directly, students should be able to read and write approximately 1,200 characters. (CHNS 0103 or equivalent) 5 hrs. lect., 1 hr. drill LNG

Fall 2018

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CHNS 0250 / FMMC 0250 - Chinese Cinema      

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. AAL ART NOA

Spring 2015, Spring 2016

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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. AAL LIT NOA

Fall 2014

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CHNS 0350 - Documentary Film in Cont China      

Documentary Film in Contemporary China
In China since the 1980s, new political and socio-economic realities, along with new technologies, created conditions for the emergence of the New Documentary Movement, the collective achievement of a group of artists with new ideas about what the form and function of nonfiction film should be. We will screen and discuss select contemporary Chinese documentary films, place these films in the context of global documentary film history, and learn methods for the analysis of nonfiction film. We will “read” each film closely, and also study secondary sources to learn about the Chinese realities that each film documents. 3 hrs. lect./screening AAL ART NOA

Fall 2015, Spring 2017

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CHNS 0400 - Adv Chns Read/Wrtng/Convrstn      

Advanced Readings, Conversation, and Writing (Modern Chinese) (in Chinese)
This course is designed to improve students' competency in highly pragmatic Chinese, spoken and written. Readings and discussion will cover a wide variety of contemporary materials with an emphasis on linguistic preparation for study in China. (CHNS 0302 or equivalent) 3 hrs. lect. LNG

Fall 2014

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CHNS 0500 - Independent Project      

Senior Essay
(Approval Required)

Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019

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CHNS 0700 - Senior Essay      

Senior Thesis
(Approval required)

Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019

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CHNS 0701 - Senior Thesis Research      

Senior Thesis Proposal
(Approval Required)

Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2018

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CHNS 0702 - Senior Thesis      

Senior Thesis
(Approval required). WTR

Winter 2015, Winter 2016, Winter 2017, Winter 2018, Winter 2019

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CMLT 0700 - Senior Thesis      

Senior Thesis
Approval required.

Fall 2016

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FYSE 1472 - Fate, Filial Piety, & Passion      

Fate, Filial Piety, and Passion in Chinese Civilization
In this seminar we will study the history of the ideas of ming (fate), xiao (filial piety), and qing (passion) in Chinese civilization. The meanings of these terms have evolved over two thousand years, but the notions of ming (one’s allotment in life), xiao (one’s duty to one’s parents), and qing (one’s sentiments or passions) have retained their central importance in China. We will discuss works of history, philosophy, literature, and film, as we consider ways in which people in the Chinese-speaking world have used these terms to express their ideas about the meaning of life and what it means to be human. 3 hrs. sem. CW LIT NOA

Spring 2016, Fall 2018

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IGST 0704 - EAS Senior Thesis      

East Asian Studies Senior Thesis
(Approval Required)

Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Winter 2016, Winter 2017, Winter 2018, Winter 2019

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Expertise and Research Interests

Modern Chinese fiction

Chinese nature and landscape literature

Chinese cinema

Program in Environmental Studies

Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest
531 College Street
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753