Departments & Institutes
The Department of English Language and Literature
The origin of English Department at PKU goes back to Jingshi Tongwenguan (The Capital House of Foreign Languages), which was set up in 1862 to train experts in foreign languages for the Qing government. It was then incorporated into the Imperial Capital University and was later renamed the School of Translation (Yixue Guan), to enroll students in the studies of English, Russia, French, German, and Japanese, in a five-year education system. In June, 1903, a new program of English literature study was initiated within the division of humanities and arts. In 1912, the Imperial Capital University was renamed National Peking University. In 1919 the university carried out an academic reform to reorganize its disciplinary arrangement into 14 departments, at which time Hu Shi, a young professor coming back from the US, became Dean of English Department. Hu and another renowned professor of the department, Prof. Gu Hongming, respectively represented the “New” and the “Old” camps of New Culture Movement at that time. In the 1920s, the English Department recruited a good number of outstanding scholars, including Chen Yuan, Yang Yinqing, Wen Yuanning,Lin Yutang, Xu Zhimo, Yu Dafu, Luo Chang, Pan Jiaxun, Zhang Xinhai, Yang Zonghan, Wang Wenxian, Wu Mi, among whom Wen Yuanning, Yang Yinqing and Ling Ziping were appointed Dean of the department consecutively. In 1932, the English Department, French Department, and German Department were merged into one department, Department of Western Literature, only to be renamed again as Department of Foreign Literature. In the 1930s, the department hired such famous scholars in English literature as Liang Shiqiu, Zhu Guanqian, Ye Gongchao, Zhao Shaoxiong, among whom Liang Shiqiu and Ye Gongchao were appointed Dean.
The year of 1937 saw the outbreak of the Anti-Japanese War, which caused Peking University, Tsinghua University and Nankai University moved to Yunnan via Changsha, to form the National Southwestern Associated University, which existed until the War was over. In those harsh years, English education of the department of foreign languages in the National Southwestern Associated University managed to prosper. Apart from William Empson and Winter, we also had such excellent scholars as Chen Jiafu, Pan Jiaxun, Qian Zhongshu, Chen Jia, Ye Gongchao, Yuan Jiahua, Wu Mi, Bian Zhilin, Li Funing, and Yang Zhouhan.
In 1946, when Peking University returned to Beijing, Zhu Guangqian took the position of Dean of the department. The year 1952 saw a widespread reorganization of academic programs, when the departments of foreign languages at PKU, TSinghua University and Yenching University all merged into the Department of Western Languages and Literature at PKU. Bian Zhilin, Wen Jiasi, and Feng Zhi assumed the post of the Dean of the department in different years.
On June 22, 1999, the English Department, the Department of Oriental Studies, the Department of Western Languages, and the Department of Russian were combined to form the School of Foreign Languages, which now has eight language departments, covering a broad area of language and literary studies.
Currently Ding Hongwei is Dean of the Department; Su Gengxin is Director of the Undergraduate Program; Mao Liang is Director of the Graduate Program, and Li Shujing heads the division of English for the non-majors.
The Program of College English is responsible for teaching College English to the university’s 5,000 non-English-major undergraduate students each semester. The program has forty-two regular Chinese faculty members, and usually employs two to four native English speakers each academic year to teach spoken English. It offers a variety of courses dealing with the acquisition of language skills at different levels, and courses in English literature, linguistics, and Western cultures.
The Program of Graduate English is in charge of teaching English to non-English-majors across the university at the graduate level. It offers required courses in listening, speaking, reading and writing, and elective courses in English poetry, English film, and Western cultures, etc. In addition, the program organizes such extra-curricular activities as the English Corner and Evening Lectures in English. Each year, five to seven experts from English-speaking countries are employed to teach writing and speaking courses to master and doctoral students.