Charles Laughlin headshot
CL

Charles Andrew Laughlin

Professor
Chair
Unit: College of Arts and Sciences
Department: East Asian Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
Office location and address
155 New Cabell Hall
1605 Jefferson Park Ave
Charlottesville, Virginia 22904
Education
BA in Chinese Language and Literature, University of Minnesota, 1988
MA, MPhil, and PhD in Chinese Literature, Columbia University, 1990, 1991, 1996
Biography

Born and raised in Minneapolis, my alma mater is the University of Minnesota, where I majored in Chinese Language and Literature, including a summer and an academic year of study abroad at Nankai University in Tianjin, China. I originally got interested in Asia as a teenager due to a variety of random influences, and by the time I got to college, I wanted to learn how to write Chinese characters with a brush and read works of Chinese religion and philosophy such as the Dao de jing, the Zhuang zi, and Buddhist scriptures in the original because the English translations seemed so opaque. But the study abroad experience combined with interests I developed in college (cultural criticism, the philosophy of literature, and the era of rapid change taking place in China) turned my attention toward literature and modern China, and so I decided to pursue a PhD in Chinese literature at Columbia University, working under C.T. Hsia and then David Wang. There I was able to read through as many classic and modern works as I could, and continued to develop my intellectual interests, which converged on literary renditions of reality (which correspond generally to the English term "non-fiction"), including reportage (报告文学), essays (broadly speaking 散文 and more specifically 小品文), and now more recently independent documentary film-making. My dissertation, which led to my first book, was on reportage literature from the Republican period to the eve of the Cultural Revolution (1919-1966), and in that project I also developed an ongoing interest in how revolutionary and socialist literature depicts and channels enthusiasm and desires.


My first teaching job was at Yale University, where I taught modern Chinese literature to undergraduates and graduate students (mostly PhD students in Chinese literature) for ten years, from 1996-2006. During that time I finished my second book, inspired in part lively discussions about modern essay writing in my graduate seminars. I also had the opportunity to co-teach a fifth-year Chinese language class, "Readings in Modern Chinese Literature," with the renowned poet Zheng Chouyu (Cheng Ch'ou-yu) for three years.


Another important part of my journey has been my growing involvement with language learning through study abroad. I had the unusual opportunity at Yale to take charge of the superb and pioneering Richard U. Light Fellowships for East Asian Language Study for many years. The Light Fellowships both identified the best programs in China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, and selected students to attend those programs, all expenses paid. To date, nearly 1,000 Yale students have received Light Fellowships, and a number of them are already building impressive careers related to East Asia.

In 2006 I traveled to Beijing University, where I became the first director of the PKU-Yale Joint Undergraduate Program, in which Yale and Beijing University undergraduates share rooms and take classes together for one semester. Then in 2007 I moved across the street to Qinghua (Tsinghua) University to serve as the director of the Inter-University Program for Chinese Langauge Studies, one of the best advanced Chinese training programs in the world, for 2 1/2 years. During those last two years in Beijing I was also selected to participate in the second cohort of the National Committee on US-China Relations' Public Intellectuals Program, which brings younger professors of Chinese studies together with Chinese and American professionals in media, government, military, and the private sector for two years of substantive interaction and networking. This and my experience at IUP gave me a new understanding of the changing importance of the Chinese language in today's world, and the importance of outreach in making the growing body of academic knowledge about China more available to the broader American public.


I am delighted to have joined the University of Virginia in January of 2010 where I can put all of this experience to great use at an institution with a strong tradition of Chinese studies, now experiencing significant growth and expansion. It is a great pleasure to be able to return to teaching, not only to share my own knowledge and perspectives, but to also learn a great deal more from students and colleagues here!

Reading Chinese Reportage Across the Disciplines
Source: American Council of Learned Societies
September 01, 2018 – December 31, 2018
National Resource Centers
Source: U.S. Department Of Education - Post Secondary Ed.
August 15, 2010 – August 14, 2015
Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships
Source: U.S. Department Of Education - Post Secondary Ed.
August 15, 2010 – August 14, 2014
CHTR 3020: Survey of Modern Chinese Literature
Credits: 3
The Revolutionary Tradition in Modern Chinese Literature and Film is a general introduction to modern Chinese literary culture.
CHIN 3460: Chinese Culture and Society through Films
Credits: 2–3
An integral part of the UVa summer Chinese language study abroad program intended specifically for students who take intensive Readings in Modern Chinese (CHIN 3010 and CHIN 3020) during the 8 week summer abroad program in Shanghai. Will view and study Chinese films made in China to learn, to think and to discuss specific topics of Chinese culture. May be offered on an irregular basis during fall or spring terms for 3 credits.
ZFOR 3506: International Study
Placeholder course for students studying abroad
ZFOR 3508: International Study
Placeholder course for students studying abroad
CHTR 3840: Writing Women in Modern China
Credits: 3
This seminar focuses on works of fiction from modern China that articulate womanhood from a variety of perspectives. In addition to women writers (Qiu Jin, Ding Ling, Eileen Chang, Xi Xi, Chen Ran, Zhu Tianxin), male writers such as Xu Dishan, Mao Dun, and Lao She who devote unusual attention to feminine subjectivity are also included. Familiarity with Chinese culture and society and literary analysis are preferred, but not required.
CHTR 3850: Documentary Writing and Film in China
Credits: 3
A seminar exploring the role of the documentary impulse in modern Chinese writing and film. Beginning with reportage literature and foreign documentaries about China from the early 20th century, the course follows the development of documentary art forms in the People's Republic of China (with some attention to Taiwan as well), culminating in the recent trend of independent documentary film making and its influence on narrative film.
CHIN 4200: Modern Chinese Literary Translation
Credits: 3
This course uses modern Chinese literary texts to introduce students to the special skills and problems associated with translation. Activities include: familiarization with key theoretical issues in translation studies, dictionary training, assessing and comparing existing translations, group work, draft revision, and quizzes on reading assignments. Prerequisite: CHIN 4020 or equivalent level. Some familiarity with Chinese literature preferred.
EAST 4991: East Asian Studies Capstone
Credits: 1
Capstone course required for all East Asian Studies majors in their final year. Pre-Requisites: Restricted to Fourth Year, Fifth Year East Asian Studies majors
CHTR 4991: Chinese Capstone
Credits: 1
Restricted to Chinese majors, this course is designed as a capstone seminar that will require a class presentation and an extended final paper that demonstrate the significant knowledge of Chinese language.
EAST 4998: Distinguished Majors Senior Thesis I
Credits: 3
The first part of a two-semester sequence of tutorial work for students completing a Senior Thesis as part of the Distinguished Majors Program in East Asian Studies or East Asian Languages and Literatures. Prerequisites: Student must be enrolled in the Distinguished Majors Program in East Asian Studies and have already completed EAST 4998.
EAST 4999: Distinguished Majors Senior Thesis
Credits: 3
The second part of a two-semester sequence of tutorial work for students completing a Senior Thesis as part of the Distinguished Majors Program in East Asian Studies or East Asian Languages and Literatures. Prerequisites: Student must be enrolled in the Distinguished Majors Program in East Asian Studies and have already completed EAST 4998. Prerequisite: Instructor Permission
CHTR 5020: Survey of Modern Chinese Literature
Credits: 3
A general introduction to modern Chinese literary culture. Examines the major genres through selected readings of representative authors. Taught in English. Fulfills the non-Western perspectives requirement.
CHTR 5840: Writing Women in Modern China
Credits: 3
This seminar focuses on works of fiction from modern China that articulate womanhood from a variety of perspectives. In addition to women writers (Qiu Jin, Ding Ling, Eileen Chang, Xi Xi, Chen Ran, Zhu Tianxin), male writers such as Xu Dishan, Mao Dun, and Lao She who devote unusual attention to feminine subjectivity are also included. Familiarity with Chinese culture and society and literary analysis are preferred, but not required. Students enrolled in the 5000 level course will be required to use some Chinese language materials.
EAST 8998: Non-Topical Research: Preparation for Research
Credits: 1–12
For master's research, taken before a thesis director has been selected.
EAST 8999: Non-Topical Research
Credits: 1–12
For master's thesis, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.