Boundaries Transcended: Recap of the 2022 Undergraduate Conference of Chinese Studies 3MT Competition

Co-hosted by both the Chinese Language Program of UBC’s Department of Asian Studies and the UBC Student Association of Sinology, the Undergraduate Conference of Chinese Studies 3-Minute Thesis Competition (hereafter UCCS 3MT 2022) was held at the UBC Asian Centre Auditorium with a live Zoom broadcast on April 1, 2022. As a burgeoning academic forum, the Conference serves as an ideal platform for undergraduate students to present their research discoveries, engage in scholarly discussions, and build learning communities for studies on China and the Chinese speaking world.

UCCS Attendees

The Conference comprised several stages of competition: after an initial round of selection from a large number of submissions, 57 contestants entered the semi-final, for which the semi-finalists each created a videotaped presentation for further display on the Canvas site dedicated to the Conference. Dr. Renren Yang, Assistant Professor of Modern Chinese Popular Culture at UBC, delivered a keynote speech titled “Transgressive Point-of-View” during the semi-final, elaborating on the switch of perspective from the first-person to the third-person narrative and the significance of the switch in The True Story of Ah Q. After a month of fierce competition, the semi-final attracted nearly 300 viewers and a total of 70 anonymous votes. Eventually, 10 out of 57 outstanding submissions managed to advance to the final round of the UCCS 3MT 2022 with the highest number of votes, during which finalists made 3-minute presentations based on their research projects.

The UCCS 3MT 2022 featured the theme of “Boundaries Transcended,” which aimed to promote innovative research during the pandemic, and inspire participants to expand their horizons beyond disciplinary boundaries. In these challenging times of the pandemic, the Conference provided many opportunities for undergraduate students to share their passions for research, make scholarly exchanges, and indeed, cross numerous boundaries to form inspiring learning communities. The UCCS 3MT 2022 showcased some of the most outstanding research projects from students registered in CHIN 450+ content-based literature courses in the academic year of 2020-21. Topics of the presented projects ranged from classical Chinese literature, through modern Chinese literature, to Chinese films.

A mosaic of the students who made presentations for UCCS 3MT 2022

On the day of the Final, Dr. Qian Wang, Director of the Chinese Language Program, opened the UCCS 3MT 2022 by pointing out that the Conference is the only academic forum for undergraduate research on Sinological studies in Canada. She hopes that the UCCS will extend its reach from China-related subjects to those of the wider Chinese-speaking world so as to function as an international platform for scholarly exchanges of undergraduate research in the future.

Prof. Wang delivering her opening remarks

Subsequently, Dr. Christopher Rea, Associate Head of Asian Studies and Professor of Modern Chinese Literature, delivered an opening speech that emphasized how well-structured research was able to facilitate academic conversations and inspire the audience to explore research topics further.

Prof. Rea delivering his opening speech

The Conference also invited other distinguished guests to its Final as the judges, including:

  • Dr. Alison Bailey, Professor of Pre-modern Chinese Literature
  • Dr. Renren Yang, Professor of Modern Chinese Popular Culture
  • Rui DingHaoyue Li, and Jiaqi Yao, Ph.D. Students of Asian Studies
  • Tianyu Han, UBC Alumnus, MPhil Student of Development Studies, University of Cambridge
  • Yiru Wang, UBC Alumna, M.A. Student of Film and Media Studies, Columbia University
  • Anqi Gao, President of UBC Student Association of Sinology
  • Peter Zou, Head of Culture Department of UBC Hanfu Culture Association

During the Final, the contestants shared their research findings on Chinese literary works both ancient and modern, demonstrating their passion for Chinese language and culture. The contestants explored various literary genres and styles from different periods and compared the meanings inherent in plots, characters, expressions, and contexts. Breaking temporal and disciplinary boundaries, they showcased their own take on the theme of the UCCS 3MT 2022, namely, “Boundaries Transcended.” Some contestants said that they had learned how to more precisely identify research topics and come up with cogent arguments by participating in the Conference. The preparation process for both essays and presentations effectively stimulated their research interests and deepened their thinking.

Some of the finalists’ presentations

The UCCS 3MT 2022 bore witness to the achievements of 12 finalists. A huge congratulations to these finalists on their exemplary research:

First Prize: 

  • Pengpeng Chen, “The Distortion of Lust and Desire in Wives and ConcubinesFarewell My Concubine, and White Deer Plain” (Modern Chinese Literature)

Second Prizes:

  • Xuan Gu & Xijin Xu & Yuanfei Shang & Wenhan Zhan, “The Meaning of ‘Blossoms fall on their own, the water flows by itself’ in A Single Cutting of Plum Blossoms by Li Qingzhao” (Classical Chinese Literature)
  • Xinyuan Liu, “To Judge the Government by Xia’s Standards: A Study of Relationship between the Knight-errant and Government in Water Margin and The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants” (Classical Chinese Literature)

Third Prizes:

  • Yuxin Guo, “‘In the dream, I was carried away, enjoying a short spell of pleasure’: A Brief Analysis on the Expression of ‘Reality and Illusion’ in The Legend of Prefect Nanke” (Classical Chinese Literature)
  • Xijin Xu, “The Road to Ideological Self-Unity: A Case Study of Wang Wei” (Classical Chinese Literature)
  • Jiaxin Yang, “Crossing the Hill of Culture: An Analysis of the Culture of ‘the Other’ and Its Significance Revealed in the Poems of Yu Ling Mountains in the Tang Dynasty” (Classical Chinese Literature)

People’s Choices:

  • Yuhan Peng, “A Tentative Discussion of the Graceful and Gentle Side of Su Shi’s Unrestrained Ci” (Classical Chinese Literature)
  • Zixin Xiao, “Is Su Shi Proficient in Temperament?” (Classical Chinese Literature)
  • Dylan Qichen Di, “Why ‘Feng’s Comedy’ Is No Longer Attractive: A Brief Discussion of If You Are the One II and Personal Tailorn” (Chinese Film Studies)
  • Letong Zhao, “The Role of Individual Voices of Married Women in the Awakening of Women’s Group Consciousness: A Brief Analysis of Xiao XiaoLove in a Fallen City, and Marriage and Women’s Profession” (Modern Chinese Literature)

Professor Christopher Rea of UBC Department of Asian Studies presented his new book, Where Research Begins, to 12 finalists.

The UCCS  would like to express their deep gratitude and appreciation to all the featured speakers, presenters, instructors, discussants, work learn assistants, participants, and behind-the-scenes crew, who contributed to the success of the Conference. In particular, the UCCS is grateful to Professor Christopher Rea for presenting each winner with a special gift, a copy of the newly released book Where Research Begins, which he co-authored with Professor Tom Mullaney of Stanford University. An online exhibition of all the semi-final and final conference presentations is available for viewing on the UCCS website for a short while.

The UCCS 3MT will continue promoting interdisciplinary research, critical thinking, and  research competence of undergraduate students at UBC. As one of the conference’s hosts, the UBC Student Association of Sinology (UBC 漢學社) is committed to improving the competition mechanism, increasing the public exposure of the event, and strengthening cooperation with other hosting organizations. The UCCS 3MT continues to welcome submissions of inspiring undergraduate research, both from UBC and other universities in North America as well. If you have any questions on the UCCS 3MT, please feel free to contact Dr. Zheng Cai, Lecturer of Chinese Language and Literature, at

Written by Elina Xu
Edited by Shih-wei Wang