Honors Program in Chinese Language and Culture and Japanese Language & Culture


The honors program in Asian Languages and Cultures Department gives students an opportunity to do advanced work in Chinese Language & Culture or Japanese Language & Culture and through this work to make an original contribution to the field. The honors program involves a year of intensive writing and research in which students work closely with a faculty affiliate of the department to write a thesis. Students may take up to six credits of independent work in order to write the thesis.

Students normally begin in the spring of their junior year by selecting an honors advisor in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures who will help develop an honors proposal.

The Honors Thesis

The honors thesis is a paper that engages with relevant scholarship and advances an original and defensible interpretation or analysis. Most honors theses are between 30 and 40 pages.

The Oral Exam

When the honors thesis is completed, the student defends it at an oral examination conducted by the Honors Examination Committee. The committee will be made up of the advisor (a faculty affiliate of the Asian Languages & Cultures Department) and two other faculty, one of whom may be from another institution. At the conclusion of the oral examination, the committee may accept the thesis, reject the thesis or ask that the thesis be further revised and resubmitted.

Who Should Consider Doing an Honors Thesis

Chinese or Japanese majors who have taken (or are currently taking) at least two China- or Japan-related culture classes and are interested in pursuing graduate school in a field that aligns with the expertise of the faculty (literature, film, linguistics, or intellectual history) may approach a faculty member to discuss the honors thesis. Applications will be assessed on the basis of the strength of the proposal as well as the availability of faculty resources.


If any of the dates listed below fall on a weekend, the deadline will be the following Monday.

May 1: The honors proposal is due (see form). The proposals should state the nature of the thesis, and the student’s background for pursuing the project. The proposal must be submitted to the department chair and the advisor and be approved by both. Forms are available from the chair of the Asian Languages and Cultures department. (December graduates should turn in their proposals December 1 of their junior year.)

September 15: A full thesis proposal and an annotated bibliography must be submitted to the advisor. The bibliography should be based on research done over the summer as well as any research done the previous spring. The names of students whose projects have been approved by the chair and advisor will be forwarded to the Dean of Academic Programs. (For December graduates, the due date is March 1.)

December 1: A report on the work completed for the honors thesis must be submitted to the advisor. The report should review the research that has been completed, update the annotated bibliography, and set out a timetable for completion of the honors thesis. In addition, the report should contain a draft of a chapter of the thesis. (For December graduates, the due date is September 1.)

January 31: The honors advisor submits to the chair the names of students who are approved to continue work on the honors thesis. By this date, the student and the advisor should agree on the members of the student’s Honors Examination Committee. (For December graduates, the due date is September 15.)

April 1: The completed thesis should be submitted to the members of the student’s Honors Examination Committee and a date for the oral examination will be set. (For December graduates, the due date is November 1.)

At a date determined by the Office of Academic Affairs, the Honors Advisor will inform the Dean of Academic Programs whether the student will be graduating with honors.

Honors Proposal form

Honors Paper Examples:

Mizuki Samuelson (2023) Mixed Speak: Towards a Re-Poetics of Race and Self

Sophia Holland (2022) Ellipses as Form in Isaac Babel and Akutagawa Ryunosuke

Maximilian Chan Weiher (2022) A Friend Who Does Me No Good: Aphorism in Matteo Ricci’s On Friendship

Jeremy Chamberlain (2020) “Derivatization”, Respect, and an Aesthetical Ethics of Considered Film Viewership

Yucai Li (2018) The Home of Our Hearts: A Consumer-Oriented Approach to Takarazuka Fandom

Ashley Mangan (2013) Imagining Female tongzhi: The Social Significance of Female Same-sex Desire in Contemporary Chinese Literature

Sherali Tareen (2005) The rhetoric of religious revival in 17th century India; a hermeneutical investigation into the life and writings of Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi (1564-1624).

Brian Steininger (2003) The Kokinshu era: Contending poetics in 10th century Japan.

Roland Broughton (2000) The shadow of the past in China’s foreign policy.

Eric Kosinski (2001) Determinants of the Japanese foreign-domestic price differentials.

Dave Bernotas (1999) Ownership structure and firm profitability in the Japanese Keiretsu.

Scott Ku (1999) Discrimination against foreigners in Japanese society.

Lea Anna Prainsack (1998) The “Comfort Women”: A study of cultural, political and legal issues.

Elisha F. Tamura (1998) Pink plastic cups and cardboard boxes: a case study of San’ya, Japan.

Heather Schlesinger (1997) Rushing the doughnut hole: an examination of Japan’s commuter culture.