Irish Studies Center

author: time:2018-08-22

Beijing Foreign Studies University has a long tradition of Irish studies, especially studies of Irish literature. Far back in the early 1980s, the late Professor Wang Zuoliang established a Celtic literature section at the BFSU Institute of Foreign Literature. Over the past three decades, BFSU researchers have done important and productive work in this field. The most representative work produced so far is An Anthology of Irish Literature compiled by Professor Chen Shu with assistance from a dozen other BFSU researchers.

In recent years, Ireland has seen rapid economic development and growing international influence. As relations between China and Ireland become increasingly strengthened, Irish studies in China have expanded into fields other than Irish literature – into the Irish culture, politics, economy, etc. It is against such a background that BFSU has set up the Irish Studies Centre,which is the first comprehensive, multidisciplinary research institution in Irish studies in China. From its onset, the Centre has received generous and sustained support from the Irish Government and academic community, which is highlighted by a donation of cash plus 400 books from the Irish Government. The National University of Ireland Maynooth has also been in active collaboration with the Centre in academic research and curriculum design.

With a view to constructing the disciplinary identity of Irish studies in China, promoting studies by China’s academic community in these fields and providing a platform for cultural exchanges between China and Ireland, the Centre undertakes a range of interdisciplinary programmes involving the country’s literature, culture, history, politics, economy and international relations. It has a permanent teaching-research staff of six as well as over 20 advisors/guest professors from other institutions both in China and Ireland. In 2007, the Centre launched its graduate programme and enrolled four students to study for MA degree in Irish Studies. In 2010, the Centre launched its Irish language teaching programme under the support of the Irish government and NUIM. Since 2011, the Centre will enroll new MA students on a biannual basis,who will pursue their degrees in Irish Literature/Culture, or in Irish Politics and Economy. Members of the Centre have published widely in Irish studies and undertaken a number of research projects funded by Chinese and Irish governments, including A history of Irish Theatre, Studies on the EU Constitutional Process, Sino-Irish Relations, and Translation of Marina Carr’s By the Bog of Cats.

Since its founding, the Centre has organized a series of academic and cultural activities, which have aroused great attention in China and abroad. These include the First International Conference on the Irish Studies in China (2007), Sino-Irish Relations: a Multi-Disciplinary Conference Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations (2009),Forum on Sino-Irish Relations (2010),“Place of Work” Photo Exhibition (2007), and the Book Launch for Desmond Egan’s Selected Poems(2008). The Centre hosts the “Ireland Week at BFSU” during the St. Patrick’s Festival every March. In May and September 2010, Irish Foreign Minister Michaeal Martin T.D.and Irish State Minister Martin Mansergh T.D. accompanied by Ambassador Declan Kelleher lectured on Sino-Irish relations at BFSU. Over the past few years, a number of renowned Irish writers visited the Centre and attended seminars including Paddy Bushe, Desmond Egan, Hugo Hamilton, Sabastian Barry, Colm Tóibín and Dermot Bolger. These events are extensively covered by the media both in China and Ireland such as, China Reading Weekly,,Irish Times,and Irish Independent.

Faculty Members

CHEN Shu, Professor
Research area: Irish Literature

WANG Zhanpeng, Professor
Research areas: Irish Politics and Diplomacy,the European Union

LI Yuan, Associate Professor
Research area: Irish Literature

WU Wen’an, Associate Professor
Research area: History of Ireland

GUO Yaling, Lecturer
Research area: Irish culture (religion)

JIA Ning, Lecturer
Research area: Irish Economy

PUBLICATIONS (2009-2010)


Jia Ning. “Paradox Unraveled: US Immigration after 9/11” Changes and Continuities: the United States after 9/11, Mei Renyi & Fu Meirong, eds. Beijing: World Affairs Press, 2009, pp.393-398.

Li Yuan, “Aestheticization of Existence: Oscar Wilde’s Dandyist Self Reinventing and Michel Foucault’s Ethics of the Self”. In Chen Shu and Wang Zhanpeng eds., Exploring Ireland: Historical Legacy and Contemporary Experience. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press. March, 2009.

Li Yuan, “Trauma Theory and Contemporary Literary Criticism”, BFSU Journal of English 2008. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press. May, 2009.

Wang Zhanpeng, “Rational Choice or Social Construction: Disputes on the Paradigms in European Integration Theories.” Forum of World Economics and Politics, 2009, No. 2.

Wang Zhanpeng, Jia Ning, et. al, “Irish Studies in China”, BFSU Journal of English 2008, Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 2009.

Wang Zhanpeng, , “China-EU Relations in the Context of European Constitutional Process.” New Thinking, No. 12, 2009.

Li Yuan, “Tranlation and Cultural Reading of By the Bog of Cats…”. China Reading Weekly. No. 810, 2010.

Li Yuan, “Trauma and Violence Narrative in Blasted”. Foreign Literature. No. 3, 2010.

Wang Zhanpeng, “Britain and the European Constitutional Process.” BFSU Journal of English 2009, Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 2010.

Wu Wenan, “Validity of A Translation Practice Course Using Materials Selected by Students”, Chinese Translators Journal, 2010, Issue 5. Beijing: China International Book Company.


Chen Shu and Wang Zhanpeng eds., Exploring Ireland: Historical Legacy and Contemporary Experience (co-editor), Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 2009.

Jia Ning,Translator,The Cambridge Companion to the Scottish Enlightenment. Edited by Alexander Broadie. Hangzhou: Zhejiang University Press, 2010.

Li Yuan, translator, The Chinese version of “By the Bog of Cats…”, Marina Carr, Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 2010.

Wang Zhanpeng, Transnational Democracy and its Limits: A Study of the European Constitutional Process, Beijing:People’s Publishing House, 2010.

Wang Zhanpeng, WuWenan, et. al, the Chinese version of China and the Irish, Jerusha McCormack, Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 2010 .

Main Research Projects

Li Yuan,A History of Irish Drama in the 20th Century, funded by the China’s National Philosophy and Social Sciences Foundation (2010 -)

Wang Zhanpeng, Transnational Democracy and its Limits: A Study of European Constitutional Process, funded by Philosophy and Social Science Foundation of the Chinese Ministry of Education (2008 -)

Sino-Irish Relations: Interdisciplinary Perspectives,funded by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs (2009-)

Translation of Marina Carr’s By the Bog of Cats, funded by Ireland Literature Exchange and Culture Ireland (2009-2010)

A Survey on the Chinese studies in Ireland funded by Information Center for Worldwide Asia Research (2009-2010)


Sino-Irish Relations: a Multi-Disciplinary Conference
Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations
December 4-5 2009

Forum on Sino-Irish Relations
– Launch of the Chinese edition of China and the Irish
– Launch of BFSU-NUIM Irish teaching Programme
20 September 2010

Courses offered by the center

Irish History

This course will present the students a general view of Irish history by reading relevant historical materials and textbooks and adopting a historical perspective in conducting Irish studies. The course materials range from the ancient times of Ireland to the present, with the focus on the study of the 19th and 20th centuries. Students are required to familiarize themselves with the outstanding historical events in Irish history and write a paper in English with about 3,000 words.

1. James Lydon, The Making of Ireland: From ancient times to the present, London and New York: Routledge, 1998.
2. T. W. Moody and F. X. Martin, The Course of Irish History, Dublin: Mercier Press, 2001.
3. Laurence M. Geary and Margaret Kelleher (eds.), Nineteenth-Century Ireland: A Guide to Recent Research, Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2005.
4. Dermot Keogh, Twentieth-Century Ireland: Revolution and State Building, Dublin: Gill & Macmillan Ltd, 2005.
5. Seán Duffy (ed.), Atlas of Irish History, Gill & Macmillan Ltd, 2000.

Irish Literature

This course will enhance students’ knowledge of major literary movements and trends in Irish literature, with emphasis on the Celtic Revival and its aftermath, and familiarize them with the cultural and historical context for Irish literature. It offers the opportunity to study the broad range of authors of Irish literature from the 18th century to the present with a special emphasis on recent critical approaches to Irish literature and questions of national identity. Major writers and their works will be covered chronologically through the close reading of the key texts including different literary genres. Certain important cultural and political contexts and dominant literary concerns will also be discussed to facilitate the comprehension of the texts and enhance further exploration. Students are required to complete longer research papers (around 3000 words) and locate relevant criticism on a particular author or topic.

1. Douglas Hyde, A Literary History of Ireland from Earliest Times to the present Day, London, St. Martin’s Press (1980).
2. Robert Welch, Bruce Stewart, ed. Oxford Companion to Irish Literature, Oxford University Press (1996)
3. Stephen Regan ed., Irish Writing: An Anthology of Irish Literature in English 1789-1939,Oxford University Press(2004)
4. Shaun Richards ed., The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-Century Irish Drama, Cambridge University Press( 2004)
5. John Wilson Foster, The Cambridge Companion to the Irish Novel, Cambridge University Press (2006)

Irish Politics and Diplomacy

The course is designed to familiarize students with Irish politics and its foreign policies. Students will learn about Irish political system, major policy areas, and the change and continuity of Irish diplomacy. In “Politics” Module, main topics covered are political tradition and political culture, government (Taoiseach, Dáil, etc.), constitution, public policy, and political participation. A special attention is given to the impact of the Irish historical experiences on its contemporary politics. In “Diplomacy” Module, main topics include evolution of Irish neutrality, Anglo-Irish relations, Ireland and the EU, Irish-American relations, China-Ireland relations, and Ireland in international organizations. This course is conducted through a combination of instructor’s lectures, student presentations, class discussions, and seminars. Students are required to complete a research paper (approximately 3000 words).


1. Collins, Neil and Terry Cradden,Irish Politics Today (4th edition),Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001.
2. Doony, Sean and John O’Toole, Irish Government Today (2nd edition), Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1998.
3. Keogh, Dermot,A History of Irish Foreign Policy, 1919-2000, Irish Academic Press, 2003.
4. Tonra, Ben,Global Citizen and European Republic: Irish Foreign Policy in Transition, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007

Irish Economy

This course will help students understand the historical development, current economic mechanism and policies in Ireland. It will explore the historical development of Irish economy from backwardness to rapid growth, and reviews from both the macro and micro levels such essential aspects of the Irish economy as governmental policies, the situation and ownership of productive materials (mainly in the form of capital and labor), the influence and consequence of open market on Ireland, and the influence of the economic system and its reform on Irish social life. The discussion on Ireland will be conducted against the encompassing background of global economy, and will be horizontally compared with other newly emerging economies. This course is to be delivered in the form of teacher’s lectures, student presentations and in-class discussions. A research paper of about 3000 words is required for completion of the course.

1. Ray Mac Sharry and Padraic A White. The Making of the Celtic Tiger: the inside Story of Ireland’s Boom Economy, Cork: Mercier Press, 2000.
2. Denis O’Hearn, Inside the Celtic tiger: the Irish Economy and the Asian Model, London: Pluto Press, 1998.
3. Colin Coulter & Steve Coleman eds. The End of Irish History: Critical Reflections on the Celtic Tiger, New York: Manchester University Press, 2003

Irish Religion and Society

The course will introduce the students to the history and contemporary issues in Irish religion. It will analyze the impact of Irish religion on each phase of Irish history and get the students acquainted with the interactions of religion with politics and other social sectors of contemporary Ireland, with a view to anticipating the future of Irish religion. The course will include two sections: Irish religious history and contemporary Irish politics and religion. The history section will examine the historical conflicts between Catholics and Protestants and their impact on the rise of nationalism and the eventual Irish independence. The contemporary section will discuss the relations between the government and Catholic church, Catholic church and other churches, and religious impact on various social sectors, including family morals, education, health care, media. This will be a discussion-oriented course, combined with the instructor’s lectures and students’ presentations. Students are required to write a 3,000-word paper at the end of the semester.

1. Carroll, Denis, ed. Religion in Ireland: Past, Present and Future. Dublin: The  Columba Press, 1999.
2. Girvin, Brian. From Union to Union: Nationalism, Democracy and Religion in  Ireland. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 2002.
3. Lydon, James. The Making of Ireland: From ancient times to the present. London and  New York: Routledge, 1998.
4. Mackey, James P. & Enda McDonagh, ed. Religion and Politics in Ireland: at the turn of the millennium. Dublin: The Columba Press, 2003.

Irish Media and Irish Culture

In this course, students will gain an understanding of the close ties and diverse interactions between Irish media and Irish culture so as to enable students to comprehend better the relevant research. From 1550 when the printing technology was introduced to Ireland onwards, Irish mass media have made various great progresses and achieved a global success, in particular, its movies and music. In the meantime, there have been many debates about the role played by the native mass media in national imaging and national branding as well. The course will consider how well the mass media in Ireland have performed——and how the national culture relates to the media. Students are expected to make presentations and complete a class journal of 2,5000 words.

1. Joe Cleary&Claire Connolly ed., The Cambridge companion to Modern Irish Culture, London: Cambridge, 2005.
2. John Horgan, Irish Media: A Critical History Since 1992, London: Routledge, 2001.
3. Clare Carroll, Patricia King, Ireland and Postcolonial Theory, Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003.
4. Fred E. Jandt, Intercultural Communication, London: Sage, 1995.
5. Chen Shu (ed.), An Anthology of Irish Literature,Beijing:Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press,2000.

Modern Irish Literature, History and Politics

This postgraduate course will examine the literature of twentieth-century Ireland, in relation to key developments and changes in Irish culture, history and politics.

Seminar Topics to include:
Introduction: Literary, History and Politics, 1900-2007
Language and Social Change
Emigration and Migration
Gender and Irish Writing
Modernism and the Irish Literary Revival
History and Commemoration: the Case of the Irish Famine
The Politics of Northern Ireland and Irish Writing
Religion and Irish Culture
The ‘Celtic Tiger’ and Irish Literary Production
Irish Visual Culture

Textbook: The Cambridge Companion to Modern Irish Culture edited by Joe Cleary and Claire Connolly

European Integration – Interdisciplinary Perspectives

In recent years, the EC/EU has increasingly become something internal rather than external to the UK. A study of the unprecedented human endeavor unfolding in Europe has become an indispensable part in understanding British political, economic and social life. This course will mainly deal with historical, political, economic and legal aspects of the European integration, introduce to students the theoretical tools of different disciplines of social sciences needed in the interdisciplinary study, assess some current developments in the integration as well as scholarly debate in the field of the EU studies, and enhance students’ understanding of the UK in the context of globalization and Europeanization.

Rosamond, B. Theories of European Integration, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.
Nugent, N. The Government and Politics of the European Union, Durham: Duke University Press, 2002. Fifth edition.
Wallace, Helen and William, eds. Policy-Making in the European Union. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000. Fourth edition.

Irish Language Course

This is an introductory course to the Irish language. Although due to many years of interaction with the English language, the latter language has had a influence on Irish in terms, for example, of some vocabulary items, Irish is fundamentally very different from English as it belongs to the Celtic group of languages, along with Scottish Gaelic, Welsh and Breton. Irish is the first official language of the Republic of Ireland, an official language of the European Union, and is spoken as a native language in certain areas of the country, collectively known as the Gaeltacht. The language is also spoken in Northern Ireland, although there it lacks the level of official recognition it enjoys in the Republic of Ireland. The students will be taught to achieve reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in the Irish language. Some aspects of Irish culture transmitted through the Irish language will also be looked at on an occasional basis, in the form of songs and poems. The course will be assessed by means of written and oral examination.

Materials used:
Internet-based resources from (Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge/The European Certificate in Irish) are used for the initial stages of the course.

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