Theory & Approach of China Studies Part I
How to do China Studies Research: Taking Media Studies as Example

How to do China Studies Research: Taking Media Studies as Example


Dr. LI Hongtao


1. Students are required to finish the readings before class and actively participate in class discussion (30%);

2. Based on what they have learned from this course, students are required to develop a research proposal (3-5 pages, single spaced) at the end of the class, which specifies the topic, research questions, literature, research design, and references (70%). Please follow the APA style (for a short online instruction, please go to ). 

3. Regarding the proposal, students can work on any China-related project, with a broadly defined social scientific perspective. The deadline for proposal submission is 12 pm on Oct. 26. Late submissions will not be accepted. Please send the proposal to the course email and hand in the hard copy to Ms. Yang Lu at the General Office of the Faculty of Humanities. 




Week 1: Researching media industries 

Summary: Who are journalists or movie producers? How do gatekeepers process information? How does a particular media organization or industry respond to new technology? What is the trajectory of Chinese press reform since 1978? In this lecture, we will discuss the opportunities and challenges provided by selected approaches (archive research, discourse analysis, interviews, ethnography) to research, and offer some case study examples. 

 * Pablo J. Boczkowski (2004). The process of adopting multimedia and interactivity in three online newsrooms, Journal of Communication, 54 (2): 197-213.

 * Nikki Usher (2010). Goodbye to the news: How out-of-work journalists assess enduring news values and the new media landscape, New Media & Society, 12 (6): 911-928. 


Week 2: Researching Texts/Representations

Summary: How did U.S. and Western European media cover the Israel-Gaza conflict? What are the dominant and alternative frames about terrorism on U.S. newspapers? How do Chinese netizens debate about the government’s anti-corruption campaign on social media? What kind of stereotypes about women, working class and ethnic minorities are being produced by mainstream movies and TV dramas in China? In this lecture, I will first give a brief introduction on framing theory and then use several case studies to illustrate the major research methods, i.e., content analysis and discourse analysis. 

 * Sean Aday (2010). Chasing the bad news: An analysis of 2005 Iraq and Afghanistan war coverage on NBC and Fox News Channel, Journal of Communication, 60, 144–164.

 * Kari Andén-Papadopoulos (2009). Body horror on the Internet: US soldiers recording the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Media, Culture and Society, 31 (6): 921-938.

 * Sung Tae Kim (2000). Making a difference: U.S. press coverage of the Kwangju and Tiananmen pro-democracy movements. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 77 (1): 22–36.

 * Guobin Yang (2013). Contesting food safety in the Chinese media: Between hegemony and counter-hegemony, The China Quarterly, 214, 337-355. 

 * Yuezhi Zhao (2000). From commercialization to conglomeration: The transformation of the Chinese press within the orbit of the party state. Journal of Communication, 50 (2): 3-26.

 * Jonathan Hassid (2011). Four Models of the Fourth Estate: A Typology of Contemporary Chinese Journalists, The China Quarterly, 208, 813-832


Week 3: Researching media audiences

Summary: What are the most offensive words in the media for people from various backgrounds? Who uses media and culture? How and why? In this lecture, I will use four case studies (two of them are about Chinese media) to illustrate how to do media audience studies. The research methods being discussed include surveys and interviews, focus groups, ethnography, and oral history. 
 * Tim Healey and Karen Ross (2002). Growing old invisibly: Older viewers talk television, Media, Culture & Society, 24 (1): 105-120. 
 * Lisa M. Tripp (2011). “The computer is not for you to be looking around, it is for schoolwork’: Challenges for digital inclusion as Latino immigrant families negotiate children’s access to the Internet, New Media & Society, 13 (4): 552–567.
 * Joseph M. Chan & Baohua Zhou (2011). Expressive behaviors across discursive spaces and issue types, Asian Journal of Communication, 21 (2): 150-166.
 * See Kam Tan (2011). Global Hollywood, Narrative Transparency, and Chinese Media Poachers: Narrating Cross-Cultural Negotiations of Friends in South China, Television & New Media, 12 (3): 207-227. 

Week 4: Media and collective memory

Summary: In this lecture, I will first give a brief introduction to the theories of collective memory and then use my own research (how U.S. elite press commemorate Tiananmen and Berlin Wall as key foreign events; how Chinese party organs (re) construct Nanjing Massacre as a cultural trauma) to illustrate how to do research in the area of media/mediated memory. The research methods being discussed (i.e., content analysis and discourse analysis) could also be used to investigate media representation of other events or issues and media texts in general. 
 * Misztal, Barbara A. (2003). Theories of Social Remembering, ch. 3 (Theorizing Remembering), pp. 50-74, Maidenhead: Open University press.
 * Edy, J. A. (1999). Journalistic uses of collective memory. Journal of Communication, 49 (2): 71-85.
 * Meyers, O., Zandberg, E., & Neiger, M. (2009). Prime Time Commemoration: An Analysis of Television Broadcasts on Israel’s Memorial Day for the Holocaust and the Heroism. Journal of Communication, 59 (3): 456–480.
 * Chin-Chuan Lee, Hongtao Li, and Francis L.F. Lee (2011), Symbolic Use of Decisive Events: Tiananmen as a News Icon in Elite U.S. Press's Editorial Discourses, International Journal of Press/Politics, 16 (3): 335-356.
 * Hongtao Li and Chin-Chuan Lee (2013). Remembering Tiananmen and Berlin Wall: The elite U.S. press’s anniversary journalism, 1990-2009, Media, Culture & Society, 35 (7): 830-846. 
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