University of Minnesota
Asian Languages & Literature

Asian Languages and Literature.

News & Events



U of M Students Compete in Japanese Speech Contest

On Saturday, March 26th, four speech finalists from the University of Minnesota attended the 30th Annual Japanese Language Speech Contest at the Japanese Consulate in Chicago. Despite stiff competition, U of M students made a strong showing.

Yiqing Ma, an Asian Languages and Literatures (ALL) major, took second place with her speech, “Women,” about resisting societal pressure to achieve a good marriage. Mengfei Yang (currently enrolled in 4th-year Japanese) placed a strong third with “Let’s Keep Our Chin Up!” a lively and engaging speech about cellphones. In addition, Sean Nelson (ALL minor) landed the Japan American Society of Chicago Award for his speech, “My Father’s First Snow,” and Yuting Ba (currently enrolled in 2nd-year Japanese) scored a Bonjinsha Award for her speech “The reason why I learn Japanese.” More U of M students qualified for this contest than students from any other university or college in the region, and several judges complimented our students on their thoughtful, well-prepared speeches. Congratulations!

Japanese Speech Contestants

Sean Nelson, Yuting Ba, Yiqing Ma, Mengfei Yang

April 2016


Chinese Flagship Students Score Big

The Chinese Flagship Program at UMN is extremely proud of their second cohort of students who will spend next year studying in China for their Capstone Year.  All seven students who applied were accepted into the Nanjing University Capstone Program, a phenomenal achievement in just eighteen months of training.  This is thanks to their hard work, the guidance of all their teachers, and the attention of Associate Director Jiang Liu and Flagship Adviser Claudia Hasegawa. While all these students share a common passion and commitment to Chinese studies, their academic interests and majors are wide-ranging:

Flagship Cohort 2

From top:

Xiaodan Yu – major: Neuroscience

minors: ALL-Chinese, Computer Science

Bradford Olson – majors: Math, Music, ALL-Chinese

University Honors Program

Kongfuechi Moua – major: Economics

minor: ALL-Chinese

Cameron Carlson – major: ALL-Chinese

minor: Spanish Studies

Allison Malmsten – major: Linguistics

minor: ALL-Chinese

Mace Blank – major: Computer Science

minor: ALL-Chinese

University Honors Program

Eric Suter – major: ALL-Chinese

minor: Communication Studies

March 2016


Hindi Language Goes Online!

Professor Sungok Hong in ALL will collaborate with Professors James Laine and Arjun Guneratne at Macalester College to lead a project called “Sharing the Bounty.” This project will develop Hindi online courses through the University of Minnesota for students at Macalester, beginning in the fall of 2016. Expansion to other area institutions is expected in the future.

Dr. Sungok Hong

Professor Hong is especially excited about this project because the language learning is designed for undergraduate students who have no access to Hindi language instruction at their institutions. Acquiring proficiency in a less commonly taught language like Hindi will enhance students’ competitive edge in both the job market and future graduate studies. Furthermore, students can gain valuable professional experience by assisting their faculty members with material development and managing online language classes. Surely, a bountiful experience for all who are involved.

This project is funded by a grant from the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) and Enhancing the Midwest Knowledge Ecosystem (EMKE) program, which is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

January 2016

Lawrence Scholarships for Majors and Minors in ALL

The Department of Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of Minnesota has received a gift of $100,000 from Jim and Mary Lawrence for the Lawrence Scholarships in Experiential Learning, which will support students in ALL pursuing summer internships and study abroad in Asia. This gift will fund over 40 students during the next five years. This is the single largest donor gift to the department since its inception in 2000.

Mary LawrenceJim Lawrence

"Mary and I are committed to helping support students in internships and study abroad programs, particularly in Asia," said Jim Lawrence. "We are impressed with the work being done by Professor Joseph Allen and we have a great deal of confidence in his faculty." According to Allen, "These scholarships will allow students to take what they learn in our language and culture courses out into the field, whether working in an international corporation or NGO, or studying advanced language in an Asian country. It allows our students to be both informed and engaged."

December 2015

Japanese Language Program Celebrates Lantern Lighting Festival

The 16th annual Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival was held at Como Park on Sunday August 23, 2015. Over 16,000 people attended the festival and enjoyed Japanese culture. In Japan, the festival of Obon is celebrated in August. During Obon, people place lanterns in front of their homes to guide their ancestral spirits home, where they are offered food and drink.

Japanese Lantern Festival 1

Photo: Phillip Bachman

The Como Park Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival is a Minnesota version of Obon, and it is the largest Japan-related event in Minnesota. At the Japanese Language Program booth, visitors enjoyed hands-on origami instruction and Japan-related trivia. Five instructors and twelve student volunteers drew large crowds while promoting Japanese language and culture.

Japanese Lantern Festival 2

Photo: Keiko Kawakami

September 2015

ALCM Ph.D. Student Receives FLAS

Camila Dodik, a Ph.D. student in Asian Literatures, Cultures and Media (ALCM) is a recent recipient of the prestigious Foreign Languages and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS). Camila's research focuses on many aspects of Japanese history, culture, and literature, including the Japanese-Language fiction in H.P. Lovecraft's Mythos. During her time in the Asian Languages & Literatures department, Camila has written two graduate papers on her topics and has begun research for her dissertation. The FLAS program has given Camila the freedom to pursue her studies and research for an additional 20 to 30 hours per week. The department is very proud to have Camila as a featured FLAS recipient and supports her goal to become a Professor of Japanese literature and culture.




In addition to Camila, these other students have received grants from the FLAS program:


Veronica Menaldi - Spanish and Portuguese - Grad

Chloe Mais - French and Italian - Grad

Kendra Kyndberg - Global Studies - Undergrad


Martha Abramson - Linguistics - Grad

Alexandra Nugent - OLPD - Grad


Jonathan Thomas - Law - Grad

Phillip Bachman - ALL - Undergrad


Sarah Saddler - Theater and Dance - Grad


Roderic Powell - Linguistics - Grad


Grace Payer - Global Studies - Undergrad

  • Fulbright Scholar Peter Williams Not Monkeying around in China ​

    ​Peter Williams on Safari during his study abroad, Tanzania, summer 2013

    Peter Williams, former student in Asian Languages and Literatures, has received a prestigious Fulbright Research Award to study the endangered golden snub-nosed monkeys of west central China. Graduating in 2014, Peter was an honors student majoring in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior; he also had minors in Chinese and Music. For his research he will be using a combination of GPS, GIS, and remote sensing technologies to understand better how to protect the monkey's habitat and conserve the species. In the first semester he will be taking classes at China West Normal University in Nanchong, Sichuan in preparation for his study. In the second semester, he will conduct field work in a national nature reserve in rural Sichuan, working with researchers from China West Normal University who are studying this monkey.
    Readers may remember Peter from his stellar presentations in the Chinese Bridge Speech contests over the last few years (first prize in 2012), which included his performance on the two-stringed Chinese instrument, the erhu.
    ​Golden snub-nosed monkeys, Qinling mountains China (source: C. P. Groves, 2005: Mamal Speices of the World. Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 174)

    Once widespread, golden snub-nosed monkeys are now endangered and are only found in pockets of Sichuan, Gansu, Hubei, and Shaanxi. Hunting has been banned since 1975, but habitat loss from logging is a continuing threat.
    August 15th, 2014
  • Joe Allen Wins Levenson Book Prize!

    Shortly after arriving at the University of Minnesota, Professor Joseph Allen dramatically expanded his field of research to include Taiwanese literature and culture. This move culminated in his book Taipei: City of Displacements, which this year was awarded the Levenson book prize--the most prestigious prize in modern Chinese studies.
    In this book, Professor Allen traces Taiwanese colonial history through the Taipei cityscape and Taiwan's multiple periods of colonization. The Chair of the Levenson Prize committee remarked that the issues Professor Allen discusses in his book are "highly relevant to those of other postcolonial societies struggling to define their identity, as well as to other 'global cities' similarly experiencing radical physical transformations."
    The presentation of the award took place at this year's Annual Meeting for the Association for Asian Studies, which is the largest Asian Studies conference in the world, and attended by thousands of scholars from the U.S., Asia, and Europe. This great achievement well represents the Department of Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of Minnesota as a program supporting the most rigorous, current scholarship on Asia.
    June 6th, 2014
  • Japanese Students Take Home the Prizes

    Japanese speech contest 04-2014 small.png
    (L to R) Jue Sun, Phillip Yocca Bachman, Yiqing Ma

    Phillip Yocca Bachman (double majoring in ALL and Linguistics) won the Grand Prize at the 28th Annual Japanese Language Speech Contest held at the Consulate General of Japan at Chicago on March 22, 2014. The prize includes a trip to Japan on Japanese Airlines.
    The good news does not stop there. Not only did an ALL student win the grand prize; every student ALL sent to the competition won a prize. Yiqing Ma (majoring in Psychology) won 4th Prize, and Jue Sun (majoring in Global Studies with a minor in ALL) won the special Bonjinsha Award.
    The competition was tough. Seventy-four contestants from a wide range of colleges and universities in the region competed in the speech contest. Congratulations to all our hard-working students!
    May 1st, 2014
  • Kaler Calls Out Kat Klett

    Kat Klett without bees

    In President Kaler's State of the University address on March 6th, he called on only one student for special recognition: Katrina (Kat) Klett--an Asian Languages & Literatures major, focusing in Chinese, with a minor in Sustainability Studies (administered by University's Institute on the Environment). Kat is known for her bees and her Chinese. She grew up in a family that specializes in breeding queen bees for US beekeepers. Chinese came later, after she arrived at the university. Kat loved language study, so why not Chinese? These two skills serve her well in her on-going work with farmers and migratory beekeepers in Yunnan Province, China, where biodiversity has made for a strong apicultural (aka. beekeeping) environment.

    Kat Klett with bees

    Kat plans on changing the world: she is committed to modifying modern agricultural practices to promote biodiversity at home and abroad. And she is well on her way. She is already the recipient of two prestigious national undergraduate awards: the Harry S. Truman Scholarship and the Udall Scholarship. And she was also a winner, placing 2nd, in the U.S. Midwest University Level Chinese Bridge Speech Contest held in spring 2013. The next stage of her work will include graduate studies in Public Affairs and a return to Asia and Africa to continue working with rural populations and bees.
    April 1st, 2014
  • Travis Workman Wins University's Top Award

    Assistant Professor Travis Workman has been named a University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professor, the highest honor the University awards to junior faculty. Travis will hold the title from 2014-16.
    The purpose of the McKnight Land-Grant Professorship program is to advance the careers of the most promising junior faculty members who are at the beginning stages of their professional careers, and who have the potential to make significant contributions to their departments and to their scholarly fields.
    The award will support Travis research on "Melodrama and the Cold War: Ideas and Emotion in Korean Cinemas" that analyzes the melodramatic mode in the cinema cultures on both sides of the Cold War, focusing on the South Korean and North Korean film industries (1945-89). Expanding on his first book on humanism in the Japanese empire, he explores the political, social, and humanist ideas of Cold War melodrama, as well as parodies and critiques of its dominant images of a world split in two.
    March 12th, 2014
  • New Scholarship for Students of Arabic

    K Wilson photo shop.jpg
    Kimberly Wilson checking out some traditional transportation in Fez, Morocco fall 2013

    Thanks to the generosity Prof. Caesar E. Farrah, late professor of Arabic language and history, Asian Languages and Literatures is pleased to announce a new scholarship for students of Arabic. Through the Middle East Outreach Consortium (MEOC) scholarship, students receive support for a year of Arabic language study. This year we have two recipients: Benjamin Eischens and Kimberly Wilson. Benjamin, a Linguistics major and Asian Languages and Literatures minor, focusing in Arabic, is currently working on his second year of Arabic at the University. Beyond the standard language classes, Benjamin also applied his knowledge of Arabic in a research paper for his "Languages of the World" course last fall. He is planning to study abroad next year. Last semester, Kimberly, a Political Science and Global Studies double major, went to the Arabic Language Institute in Fez, Morocco to continue her Arabic studies. In addition to her class work, she used Arabic in her daily interaction with her host family and other people in Fez, including when she volunteered at a shelter for abused young girls. Congratulations to Benjamin and Kimberly.
    February 5th, 2014
  • ALL Hosts Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program Alumni

    The Japanese Language Program invited the JET Alumni Association (JETAA) of Minnesota to hold JET information sessions on October 28 and October 31. The JETAA members gave enthusiastic presentations for an audience of thirty-five interested students. The presenters were: Mario Acito (ALL alumnus, 2010-2013 Kyoto ), Amanda Costello (ALL alumna, 2005-2007 Hyogo), Kate Myer (U of M graduate, currently in U of M grad school and taking 3rd year Japanese, 2006-2010 Nagasaki), and Kate Thersleff (Events Coordinator of JETAA of Minnesota; U of M-Morris graduate, 2005-2008 Wakayama).
    JET_Mario cropped.jpg
    Mario Acito, ALL alumnus, with his 5th grade students from Goka Elementary School (Kyotango City, Kyoto) 2013

    Since 1987, the Japanese government has hired over 55,000 young people from around the world to live and work as an assistant language teacher or a coordinator for international relations in Japan. We are very proud that the Japanese Language Program sends several students to Japan through the JET Program every year. We sent seven students to Japan in 2013.
    December 5th, 2013
  • Professor Richard B. Mather Turns 100 Today!

    November 11, 2013 is Richard Mather's one hundredth birthday! Mather was born in Baoding, China and grew up there until he came to United States to go to college, graduating summa cum laude in 1935 from Princeton University. His plans to return to China were interrupted by the war and he instead went on to the University of California, Berkeley to pursue his PhD in Chinese literature, studying with Peter Boodberg and others.
    Mather came to the University of Minnesota in 1949 to found the study of Chinese language and literature. In the following decades, he was a major force in Chinese studies at the university and across the nation. He was central to establishing the field of early medieval Chinese studies with his monumental translation, A New Account of Tales of the World (University of Minnesota Press, 1976). Even after his 1984 retirement Mather was very active, publishing The Poet Shen Yüeh: The Reticent Marquis (Princeton UP, 1988) and the two-volume The Age of Eternal Brilliance: Three Lyric Poets of the Yung-ming Era (Brill, 2003). His New Account was reissued in a revised second edition by U of Michigan Press in 2002.
    His beloved wife Virginia, to whom the Age of Brilliance was simply dedicated as "For Ginny", passed away in 2012. Richard currently lives with his daughter in Northern Minnesota.
    The Department of Asian Languages and Literatures established the Richard B. and Virginia Mather Fellowship in Asian Languages and Literatures to help support graduate students in our new PhD program.
    November 11th, 2013
  • Student Takes the Prize in China

    Anthony Dodge is one of the best students of Chinese in the world. We know that because he won a first prize in the international Chinese language competition, Chinese Bridge: Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students, held in China this summer. One of 123 students from seventy-seven countries, Anthony was the only student from United States to be a top-ten finalist. The month-long competition sponsored by the Chinese government was in four stages, each of which was a nationally broadcast television program. These included speeches, talent contests (Anthony played the cello and the Chinese erhu), acting in short plays, live performances, and even a scavenger hunt in an amusement park (in which Anthony also came in first).
    Anthody Dodge Cello cropped.jpg
    Anthony began his Chinese studies in ALL as a freshman, and completed four years of language instruction with us, including two short study-abroads. He graduated in May and is now studying Chinese literature at Nanjing University with a scholarship from the Confucius Institute. After that he hopes to pursue an MBA at Tsinghua University in Beijing--as a Chinese Bridge first prize winner, he already has a scholarship to do so!
    Ling Wang, Director of Instruction for Chinese program, told Anthony "Your great achievements will inspire all Chinese-language learners at UMN to become enthusiastic and motivated students."
    October 8th, 2013
  • Korean Program: Biggest and Best of its Kind

    Hangtae Cho, PhD, Director of Language Instruction, is internationally renowned for his development of our Korean language program, which features training for non-heritage learners. It is the nation's largest program of this type, and the second largest of any Korean program in the United States. Thus, Hangtae was recently invited to the 23rd International Conference hosted by the International Association for Korean Language Education on August 10-11, 2013 in Seoul, Korea to present on "Case Study of Dealing with Mixed Language Classes for Heritage and Non-Heritage Students".
    Hangtae cropped.jpg
    The conference gathered world renowned Korean language scholars to discuss the theme, "Developing Strategies in Korean Language Classrooms". After attending the conference, Hangtae also gave a special lecture, "Past, Present and Future of Korean Education in US," to graduate students of Korean language education at Korea University (his alma mater) during his visit to Korea.
    Hangtae said that it was a great opportunity to share his ideas in an international academic arena.
    Conference website:
    August 28th, 2013