Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Zhejiang University

This week, I accepted a job teaching English at in the School of International Studies at Zhejiang University. ZJU is widely acknowledged as one of the best universities in China (most surveys, however subjective they may be, put it at #3, after Beijing and Qinghua Universities -- which, incidentally, are also known as Peking and Tsinghua U, using the old Wade-Giles romanization system).

Next fall, I'll be starting a new job there. The SIS includes 12 different research institutes, including literature, translation studies, German, Russian, Japanese, foreign language teaching, and discourse studies. I've been following the development of the Institute of Discourse and Cultural Studies for the last year or so, and it looks like they're doing some really cool stuff there. In fact, they are introducing a new international PhD program called "Communication and Contemporary China" next semester, and I am flirting with the idea of applying in the future. (There are a lot of variables, not the least of which is the fact that full-time teaching and full-time student-ing aren't exactly compatible.)

There are several attractive things about this program: first, it's a 3 years and research-based. In terms of time (to say nothing of money), that's appealing. Second, it would, I hope, give me a chance to work on my Chinese language more than I do now. The working language of the program is English, but there are language courses involved. Third, it might just be the perfect place for me to do the kind of research I've been mulling over, which is something about Chinese indie rock (for example: the use of English in Chinese indie rock, the construction of Chinese indie rock in "Western" media, "indie" discourse, etc.).

It's really too early to tell if this PhD program is right for me, but being at ZJU will, I hope, be a stimulating environment and give me a chance to explore whether this kind of thing is what I want to do in the future.

PS: On our recent trip to Hangzhou (where ZJU is), we went to the newly remodeled Foriegn Language Bookstore, where I found the mother lode of cheap applied linguistics books. Seriously. The entire TeacherSource series for about $4 apiece; the entire Cambridge Applied Linguistics series for about $3 apiece; the entire Oxford Introductions to Language Study series for about $1 apiece. In the US, the former two series are around $25-$35, the latter $15, but here they are reprinted by the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press and given China-friendly prices. I bought about 8 books, and I'll be back.

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