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[CAS 5970] Special Topics/Seminar - 102

Paul Bell

Course Description

Special Topics/Seminar: Chinese Culture and Communications


This course will provide students an introduction to Chinese culture and how that culture affects Chinese communication styles.  An overview of Chinese history and traditional cultural and communication practices will provide a foundation for analyzing and understanding contemporary communication styles. The course will also explore the effects of the rhetoric and policies of the Chinese government and the Communist Party of China on contemporary communication practices, including Chinese media and the Internet. Students will learn to think about Chinese culture and communication styles from a variety of perspectives and to apply what they have learned in practice and to achieve a better understanding of the social and political dynamics at play in the cultural and communication practices in contemporary China.

Class Dates, Format, Location and Hours

DatesJuly 29-31, August 5-7, 2022
Location for on-site coursesOklahoma City, OK
HoursFriday 5:30-9:30 p.m.; Saturday 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sunday 1:00-5:00 p.m.
Last day to enroll or drop without penaltyJune 30, 2022

Site Director

NameKristen Dennis
Office address/locationThe University of Oklahoma, 755 Research Parkway, 
Suite 429A Oklahoma City, OK 73104
Office hoursMonday – Friday, 0900-1700
DSN and CIV phone405-271-4522, Cell 405-314-6773

Professor Contact Information

Course ProfessorPaul B. Bell, Jr.
Mailing AddressEllison Hall 312, University of Oklahoma, Norman OK 73019
Telephone NumberMobile: (405) 473-3739
Fax Number
Virtual Office Hours
Professor availabilityThe professor will be available via e-mail or text message to students before and after the class sessions. On-site office hours are half an hour before and after each class session and by appointment.

Textbook(s) and Instructional Materials

Student materials are available at the OU Bookstore Website at The website has book selling, renting, buying, returning, and order tracking capabilities. If you need help with an order, or if you have any questions contact the toll-free phone at 1-(855)-790-6637, agents are available from 9a – 5p (EST) Monday – Friday. Text prices are available online.


Materials posted on the Canvas learning system: A list of journal articles and other required and recommended readings is listed online at the course Access Canvas at, enter your OU NetID and password, and select course to access material. If you require assistance with Canvas, please click on the Help icon. You can search the Canvas guides, chat with Canvas support, or contact OU IT.

China in the 21st Century : What Everyone Needs to Know
China in the 21st Century : What Everyone Needs to Know
by Wasserstrom, Jeffrey N., Cunningham, Maura Elizabeth
Published by Oxford University Press, Incorporated
ISBN: 9780190659080
The Geography of Thought How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why
The Geography of Thought How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why
by Richard E. Nisbett
Published by Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9780743255356
Thinking Through Chinapb
Thinking Through Chinapb
by Blair, Mccormack
Published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Incorporated
ISBN: 9781442247925

Course Objectives

As a result of readings, lectures and discussions, students who complete this course should be able to:

  • Understand the foundations of Chinese culture and its role in creating modern China.
  • Understand how Chinese culture has affected the development of Chinese communication practices and how it continues to affect contemporary interpersonal communication.
  • Understand the role of the internet in contemporary China
  • Understand the structure and role of Chinese print and electronic media.
  • Understand the “Great Firewall of China” and both why and how the Chinese government and the Communist Party of China seek to impose control over Chinese media and the internet.
  • Understand how ordinary Chinese respond to, resist and/or bypass government efforts to control Chinese media and the internet.
  • Use the internet to access information from and about Chinese media.
  • Use resources available on the Internet to obtain information about contemporary communication practices and issues from official and unofficial Chinese and non-Chinese perspectives.
  • Engage in informed discussion and debate about China's past, current and future situation.
  • Do independent research on topics related to Chinese culture and communication and write an analysis paper on a topic about contemporary Chinese culture and communication of interest to the student.


Course Outline

Note: Required readings must be completed before the first meeting of the class. Students will be expected to come to class prepared to discuss the required readings.


All classes will consist of a combination of lecture and discussion, with discussion becoming the dominant element as the course progresses. Students are expected to have read all of the assignments prior to class and to come to class prepared to discuss the material, express informed opinions and ask relevant questions. Class participation will count 25% of the final grade. Topics covered will include:

  • A brief overview of 5000 years of Chinese history
  • Chinese culture
  • Cultural basis of Chinese communication
  • Chinese rhetoric
  • Chinese humor
  • Governance of China
  • Chinese media
  • The Chinese internet
  • Chinese government’s rhetoric and policies governing media and access to information
  • Public resistance to controls over access to information


Assignments, Grading and Due Dates

Pre-Class Assignments

  • Read all of the assigned books listed in the syllabus.
  • Complete the pre-class assignments listed on the course web site.
  • Complete the on-line Chinese newspaper reading assignment described on the course web site.


Note: Pre-class assignment 1 is due three weeks prior to the first meeting of the class, July 8, 2022. The remaining pre-class assignments are due no later than 72 hours prior to the first meeting of the class. Assignments submitted after these dates will still be accepted but they will receive less than full credit.


Assignments during the class week

  • In-class discussion: Prior to discussing each topic class, read the required articles associated with that class topic and complete the assignment listed on the course web site associated with the readings.
  • Newspaper assignment: Prior to each class meeting read at least one article from an online Chinese newspaper (in English) and come to class prepared to report on and discuss the article.
  • Chinese culture assignment: Write a poem in English using the classical juéjù style and turn it in by the final class meeting.
  • Submit and get approval for your post-class research paper.


Post-Class Assignments

  • Complete the post-class research paper as described on the course web site on the topic approved by the instructor. The paper is due no later than August 20, 2022.
  • Continue reading Chinese newspapers on-line.


This is a letter-graded course: A, B, C, D, or F.

Graded Assignments Percent of Grade
Pre-class essay 5%
Pre-class written assignments based on the readings 25%
Newspaper assignment and contribution to in-class discussion 25%
Chinese culture assignment 5%
Post-class research paper 40%

Attendance Policy

Making Up Missed Classes:

Students who miss a class will be required to read the papers assigned for the topics that were discussed during the missed class and write a 2-3 page summary of each of the assigned papers. Students who miss the role-playing exercise must write a three page essay describing and evaluating his or her imagined life as a Chinese citizen who occupies the same place in contemporary Chinese society that the student does in his or her own society.


Incomplete Grade Policy

Notice: Failure to meet assignment due dates could result in a grade of I (Incomplete) and may adversely impact Tuition Assistance and/or Financial Aid.


Attendance/Grade Policy

Attendance and participation in interaction, individual assignments, group exercises, simulations, role playing, etc. are valuable aspects of any course because much of the learning comes from discussions in class with other students. It is expected that you attend all classes and be on time except for excused emergencies.

Excused absences are given for professor mandated activities or legally required activities such as emergencies or military assignments. It is the policy of the University to excuse absences of students that result from religious observances and to provide without penalty for the rescheduling of examinations and additional required class work that may fall on religious holidays. Unavoidable personal emergencies, including (but not limited to) serious illness; delays in getting to class because of accidents, etc.; deaths and funerals, and hazardous road conditions will be excused.

If you are obtaining financial assistance (TA, STAP, FA, VA, Scholarship, etc.) to pay all or part of your tuition cost, you must follow your funding agency/institution’s policy regarding “I” (Incomplete) grades unless the timeline is longer than what the University policy allows then you must adhere to the University policy. Students who receive Financial Aid must resolve/complete any “I” (Incomplete) grades by the end of the term or he/she may be placed on “financial aid probation.” If the “I” grade is not resolved/completed by the end of the following term, the student’s Financial Aid may be suspended make the student ineligible for further Financial Aid.

Students are responsible for meeting the guidelines of Tuition Assistance and Veterans Assistance. See the education counselor at your local education center for a complete description of your TA or VA requirements.

OU faculty will submit grades online through ONE not later than 30 days after the course end date. Course end dates are approximately one calendar month after the final seminar date on this syllabus and are provided on the official scheduling website for reference.

Academic Integrity and Student Conduct 

Academic integrity means honesty and responsibility in scholarship. Academic assignments exist to help students learn; grades exist to show how fully this goal is attained. Therefore all work and all grades should result from the student's own understanding and effort.

Academic misconduct is any act which improperly affects the evaluation of a student’s academic performance or achievement. Misconduct occurs when the student either knows or reasonably should know that the act constitutes misconduct. Academic misconduct includes: cheating and using unauthorized materials on examinations and other assignments; improper collaboration, submitting the same assignment for different classes (self-plagiarism); fabrication, forgery, alteration of documents, lying, etc…in order to obtain an academic advantage; assisting others in academic misconduct; attempting to commit academic misconduct; destruction of property, hacking, etc…; intimidation and interference with integrity process; and plagiarism. All students should review the Student’s Guide to Academic Integrity at 

Students and faculty each have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate learning environment. All students should review policies regarding student conduct at 

Accommodation Statement

The University of Oklahoma is committed to making its activities as accessible as possible. For accommodations on the basis of disability, please contact your local OU Site Director.

Adjustment for Pregnancy/Childbirth-Related Issues

Should you need modifications or adjustments to your course requirements because of documented pregnancy-related or childbirth-related issues, please contact the professor as soon as possible to discuss. Generally, modifications will be made where medically necessary and similar in scope to accommodations based on temporary disability. Please see

Title IX Resources

For any concerns regarding gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, stalking, or intimate partner violence, the University offers a variety of resources, including advocates on-call 24/7, counseling services, mutual no-contact orders, scheduling adjustments, and disciplinary sanctions against the perpetrator. Please contact the Sexual Misconduct Office at or (405) 325-2215 (8-5), or the Sexual Assault Response Team at (405) 615 -0013 (24/7) to report an incident. To learn more about Title IX, please visit the Institutional Equity Office’s website at 

Course Policies

Extended Campus (also and formerly known as Advanced Programs) policy is to order books in paperback if available. Courses, dates, and professors are subject to change. Please check with your OU Site Director. Students should retain a copy of any assignments that are e/mailed to the professor for the course. Neither duplicating services nor office supplies are provided.

Any and all course materials, syllabus, lessons, lectures, etc. are the property of professor teaching the course and the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma and are protected under applicable copyright.

For more information about OU Extended Campus, visit our website at:

Statement on Respect

The classroom should provide a safe learning environment where students can express their views without fear of reprisal. That freedom of expression must be balanced by demonstrated respect for other’s viewpoints and appropriate and reasonable sensitivity, especially within the context of scholarly disagreement.  Disrespectful or uncivil dialogue (including, but not limited to, personal attacks, insults, or harassment) will not be tolerated.

Recording Devices/Phones/Computers

It is important for students to be fully present during class to fully benefit from lectures, discussions, and experiential assignments. Class sessions may not be tape-recorded. All telephones and pagers should be turned off or placed on silent mode. Computers may not be used during class. Students who require an exception to this policy should discuss exceptional circumstances with the professor.


Paul Burton Bell, Jr., Ph.D.



  • 1968 B. in Biology, cum laude, Washington University, St. Louis, MO.
  • 1975 D. in Biology Yale University, New Haven, CT.
  • 1974 Post-doctoral Fellowship, Uppsala University, Sweden
  • 1974-76 Postdoctoral Fellowship, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA


Current Positions

  • Dean Emeritus, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK
  • Regents’ Professor
  • Chairman of the Board, OU Confucius Institute
  • Professor of Zoology


Major Areas of Teaching and Research Interest

  • Contemporary China
  • Chinese Economic Development
  • Chinese Culture and Communication
  • Chinese Business Etiquette
  • Leadership
  • University administration


Representative Honors and Awards Received

  • Regents’ Professor, OU, 2013
  • Individual Performance Excellence Award from Confucius Institute Headquarters, Beijing, China, 2012
  • Outstanding Civic Leader for the Asia Society of Oklahoma, 2011
  • Member of the Board of Directors, Council of Colleges of Arts and Science, 2004-2011
  • President-elect, President, and Past-President, Council of Colleges of Arts and Science, 2006-2011
  • Honorary Doctor of Philosophy, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden 1997
  • Special Recognition Award, Oklahoma Academic Advising Association 1995
  • Distinguished Lecturer, University of Oklahoma Associates, 1988
  • AMOCO Good Teaching Award, 1987
  • OU College of Arts and Science Summer Fellowship 1981
  • OU Research Council Junior Faculty Summer Fellowship 1980