As a professor in Appalachian State University’s Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Dr. Wendy Xie said she finds that when students learn language skills, they also develop thinking processes that expand their worldview and enhance both their career potential and personal lives.
Xie grew up in a small mountain town in China and studied Chinese literary and cinematic studies at Yale University. She teaches courses in beginning- and intermediate-level Chinese language and Chinese cinema and literature, and also leads summer study abroad programs in China.
“When students come to my class in September, they can’t say a thing in Chinese. By the end of the academic year, they can get along in the language. … To watch and be a small part of my students’ progress and growth is a huge privilege.”
Dr. Wendy Xie, associate professor
- What excites or inspires you about this degree field?
I used to call myself a literature person because I was trained in literary and cinematic studies. But now I mainly teach language courses and enjoy every single minute of it. I find the work itself rewarding. When students come to my class in September, they can’t say a thing in Chinese; by the end of the academic year, they can get along in the language. I find such palpable results to be much more elusive when I teach literature or cinema courses. To watch and be a small part of my students’ progress and growth across the year is a huge privilege, which I treasure.
- Why did you choose to come to Appalachian to teach?
I grew up in a small mountain town in China, just like Boone. Quaint and beautiful. Even though I lived in big cities for my education, such as Beijing (China) and Berlin (Germany), I always felt more at home in smaller towns. When I came to Appalachian for my job interview, I fell in love with the town and the university right away. I have been at Appalachian for 10 years now, and my amazing colleagues and students make it a very exciting and fulfilling place to be!
- What is your research specialty and how does it strengthen your teaching?
In addition to learning the intricacies of Chinese sounds and grammar, our language students are expected to understand the importance of Chinese culture. I am able to share my research with them by integrating it into the language classroom.
My current research interests include issues of emotion and intimacy in Chinese popular culture, especially in operatic and cinematic narratives. Recent publications include “Mother’s Suffering and the Politics of Tears in ‘Mama, Love Me One More Time’” and “What’s Chairman Mao Got to Do with It? Nostalgia, Intertextuality and Reconstructing Revolutionary Myth in Tsui Hark’s ‘The Taking of Tiger Mountain by Strategy.’”
I am also collaborating with Appalachian colleague Dr. Xiaofei Tu on a book project titled “J-Pop Goes to China: AKB48, SNH48 and Nationalism.”
- What do you hope students take away from the classes you teach?
I love what world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma said about the value and importance of a different point view: “When we enlarge our view of the world, we deepen our understanding of our own lives.”
I strongly believe in a close relationship between language learning and thinking processes. I hope that the language skills and cultural literacy my students acquire in my classes not only equip them for a wide range of careers in local and global spheres, but also with critical analytical and interpretive abilities that enrich their lives and experiences beyond the classroom and the workplace.
- Among your department’s offerings for the Bachelor of Arts in Languages, Literatures and Cultures is a concentration in East Asian languages and cultures. Why should a student interested in this topic choose Appalachian?
In our East Asian Studies major, students can study Chinese or Japanese language (or both) and explore the exciting literature, film, popular culture, religion and other forms of cultural expression associated with East Asia. We have a highly qualified and dedicated faculty team who strives to create an enthusiastic, accessible and dynamic learning environment. Our classes are small and our students are consistently awarded competitive Chinese and Japanese scholarships, such as the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship. We offer a variety of study abroad opportunities in Japan, China, Taiwan and South Korea — and, our graduates go on to successful careers in law, business, education, international relations and other fields in the United States and Asia.
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About the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures
The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures offers courses that enhance students’ understanding of other cultures and languages as well as their own, making them prepared for lifelong learning in a multicultural world. Learn more at https://dllc.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) at Appalachian State University is home to 17 academic departments, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. CAS aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. More than 6,400 student majors are enrolled in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing App State’s general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives. App State is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System, with a national reputation for innovative teaching and opening access to a high-quality, affordable education for all. The university enrolls more than 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and 80 graduate majors at its Boone and Hickory campuses and through App State Online. Learn more at https://www.appstate.edu.