My Reflection Of Chinese Language And Literature

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Chinese language and literature have defined who I am. Before I was born, my once would-be-novelist father named me Bowen, which literally means “erudition” in Chinese. My father derived this name from one line in The Analects of Confucius: “To broaden oneself with letters.” Later on, when I was an infant, my mom taught me how to speak by reciting classical Chinese poems to me. As a result, the first complete sentence I ever spoke in my life was a line by the poet Bai Juyi. I have been an incorrigible lover of Chinese literature. Since I was able to read, I voraciously devoured classical Chinese poetry, and led a life in the mirage conjured by literature. Sometimes I was intoxicated with the delicate fragrance of chrysanthemum tea in the company …show more content…
During my stay in Japan in the summer of my sophomore year, I studied the endangered local Hakodate dialect with the linguistic analysis techniques I learned at Williams. My study of the Japanese dialect reminded me that there are also many dialects in China that are being lost because of the propagation of the mandarin. In fact, as a speaker of the Wu dialect myself, I feel ashamed that I have long neglected my own dialect and never learned to appreciate it seriously. In the past two summers, with the help of Linen Grant for Summer Travel in Asia, I travelled intensely in China in the past two summers. I spent three weeks traveling in the Southwestern China in the summer of my sophomore year, and four weeks traveling in the Northwestern and Northeastern China in the summer of my junior year. In these travels, I realized that language took a significant role in constituting individual’s identity. While the standard mandarin fosters the national identity, dialects retain regional identities. Also, I found the two convenient terms “Chinese culture” and “Chinese language” problematic because they are so overarching that they overshadow individual differences. Many dialects that do not have standard writing system have rich oral tradition. The Chinese identity and the Chinese language are not homogenous concepts as they seem to …show more content…
My studies of English, Japanese, and German languages and literature have equipped me with the sensibility and close reading techniques, as showcased in my writing sample about Keats’ poetry. In addition, my trainings in literary, psychoanalytic and critical theories have provided me with solid theoretical background knowledge. I also dabbled in math and computer science, which have accustomed me to rigorous abstract reasoning. Moreover, recently I find computer science relevant to literary study, when I developed a program that determines the authorship of an unknown text as the final project for my computer science class. Most importantly, my diverse academic interests and cultural experiences offer me multiple perspectives, which I am excited to share with my classmates at Stanford, as I am looking forward to learning from

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