News Faculty of Arts

We are delighted to announce that four of our faculty members and postgraduate students have received the following university-wide awards in recognition of their commendable research efforts and accomplishments in their respective fields.


Research Excellence Award 2019-20
Professor Lai Tsz Pang John, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies
Professor Zhong Lei, Department of Philosophy


Young Research Award 2019
Professor Jeremy Yellen, Department of Japanese Studies


Postgraduate Research Output Award 2019
Ms. Ina Goel, Department of Anthropology


For more details of the awards, please visit the Research section of the Faculty website.

We are delighted to announce that Ms Olive Cheung, Senior Lecturer of English Language Teaching Unit, has received the Vice-Chancellor’s Exemplary Teaching Award 2019 in recognition of her commitment and contributions to English language teaching.

Ms Cheung shared her convictions on teaching: “The pivot of our work at the English Language Teaching Unit is to help students become effective and responsible communicators in a globalized community and to equip them with the language skills required to succeed in their academic and professional pursuits, a goal which I hope to have achieved through building coherent language courses that answer the needs of the target student body.”

Ms Cheung also expressed gratitude to her mentors and colleagues for being her role models. Why do students matter most to her? “I sincerely thank my students, who keep my work challenging and fulfilling every day,” Ms Cheung said.


The Vice-Chancellor's Exemplary Teaching Award Scheme was launched in the year 1999 to give recognition to outstanding teachers. 21 teachers from 10 Departments and Teaching Units in the Faculty of Arts have received the Award to date.

CUHK UPDates, by ISO


Is speaking Cantonese determined by our genes? A research group led by Prof. Patrick Wong, Stanley Ho Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience of the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages and director of Brain and Mind Institute, discovered that participants with a specific genotype of the brain-growth related ASPM gene are better at perceiving lexical tone in Cantonese. As most Chinese people have the genotype that favours lexical tone processing, they adopted lexical tone in their language, with such trait staying on throughout language evolution.


Cantonese uses pitch to distinguish word meanings. For example, /si/ spoken in a high pitch means ‘teacher’ (師 [si1]), while in a low pitch it means ‘time’ (時 [si4]). In 2007, British linguists Dan Dediu and D. Robert Ladd put forward the genetic-biasing hypothesis of language evolution, which argues genes predispose one to certain linguistic characteristics. To prove this claim, Prof. Wong studied the association between these genes and the perception of lexical tone in Cantonese speakers. Since 2015, the team had recruited more than 400 native Cantonese speakers to take listening tests on Cantonese tone and musical pitch, among others. Saliva samples of theirs were collected for genetic testing by Prof. Richard Choy, associate professor of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and deputy director of the Prenatal Genetic Diagnosis Centre at CUHK. Results found that about 70% of participants carry the TT genotype of the ASPM gene, and these individuals are better able to perceive Cantonese tones. For the remaining 30% who possess another genotype, their performance is less brilliant.


Yet, the current study also shows that those without the said genotype may improve their tone perception through musical training. As Chinese speakers with developmental language disorder and autism spectrum disorder often have tone perception deficits, screening for ASPM could be an avenue for early detection of communication disorders as well as a clinical marker for early intervention.

We are delighted to announce that Professor Lam Weng Cheong, Assistant Professor of the Department of Anthropology and Department of History, has received the SCGE Exemplary Teaching Award in General Education 2019 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to course design, teaching and learning activities, and tutelage in the General Education courses. Professor Lam has been highly acclaimed as a teacher with an “impressive teaching philosophy” by the Senate Committee on General Education.

In order to help students better understand archaeology, Professor Lam adopts various teaching tools to engage students and stimulate their interests in learning, he particularly includes field trips in his courses to expand students’ awareness and create further interests towards the study of human cultures.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong hosts the “Class Acts” CUHK Online Talk Series for students with new schedule. The sixth talk presented by Professor Ian Morley, Department of History of CUHK on the theme of “City Development and Urban History” will be broadcasted on 29 April. The online talks will be presented by CUHK scholars and uploaded to YouTube and CUTV website. All staff, students and alumni are welcome to join the talks.

Topic: City Development and Urban History

Date and Time: 29 April (Wed) 4:00 p.m.
Speaker: Prof. Ian MORLEY, Department of History
Language: English

CUHK Faculty of Arts hosted a series of public online lectures in April and May, under the theme “Arts and Humanities in the Face of Global Challenges”, to encourage home learning during the coronavirus pandemic. This series of webinars presented research by a diverse group of scholars from the Faculty. Each speaker brought refreshing and historical perspectives on our contemporary moment, either directly or through reflection. Together, these public events spoke for the value and relevance of humanities scholarship at a time when we face profound global challenges.

We are delighted to announce that Professor Eli Sorensen (Department of English) is awarded the Luce East Asia Fellowship and will be in residence at the National Humanities Center from Sept-Dec 2020. His research will be looking at the genre of Korean adoption autobiographies, examining key topics within the literature such as the origin of international adoption, looking for roots, human rights and future perspectives. The project aims to both contextualise and contribute to the ongoing contemporary debate on international adoption through the perspectives of the adoptees themselves.

This award is a first for CUHK and a fantastic opportunity for Prof. Sorensen. Hearty congratulations from the Faculty on his fellowship!

The Faculty would like to congratulate Dr. LAI Pit Shun from the Department of Chinese Language and Literature on receiving the Vice-Chancellor’s Exemplary Teaching Award 2018. The Vice-Chancellor's Exemplary Teaching Award has been given annually since 1999 by the Vice-Chancellor to exemplary teachers nominated by the Dean of each Faculty and the Senate Committee on General Education in recognition of their outstanding teaching performance.


The Faculty would also like to congratulate Professor Kwok Bit-chee from the Department of Chinese Language and Literature and Dr. Reto Winckler, a PhD graduate from the Department of English, on receiving the Young Researcher Award 2018 and Postgraduate Research Output Award 2018 respectively. Professor Kwok was awarded for his research monograph Southern Min: Comparative Phonology and Subgrouping (Routledge, 2018), while Dr. Winckler was recognized for his journal article “Profound Farce: William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors as farcical scepticism” (In Cahier Élisabéthains: A Journal of English Renaissance Studies, 2018, Vol. 97(1) 4–19).


The two awards were established in 2002 to recognize the research accomplishments of young faculty members and to encourage quality research. The Young Researcher Award is open to all eligible full-time teachers at Assistant Professor rank or above and below the age of 45, while the Postgraduate Research Output Award is open to all eligible full-time or part-time postgraduate students of the University. The Dean of each Faculty is invited every year to nominate, for each award, one member who has produced the best research output. The Research Committee considers nominations received and recommends successful candidates for approval by the Administrative and Planning Committee.


Our Public Lecture Series on “Why do the Liberal Arts Matter?” kicked off on 22nd Sept 2019 at the Hong Kong History Museum with Professor Ho Pui Yin speaking on “A Travel through Time and Space: Historical Buildings That Bear Witness to Changes in People's Livelihoods in Hong Kong”. Professor Ho spoke to a packed venue of over 140 people on how historical buildings in different eras lead to changes in people’s lives and livelihoods. RTHK was also present to film the lecture; public broadcast details will be published later.


Following his three previous public lecture series on The Dream of the Red Chamber and Kunqu opera, Prof. Kenneth Pai Hsien-yung, Distinguished Professor-at-Large, hosted a series of two public lectures at CUHK on film adaptations of novels. He shared his views on the intertwining nature of films and novels as artistic mediums, and provided analysis of two 1980s Chinese films, Jade Love and The Last Aristocrats, both of which were adapted from novels written by Prof. Pai. The lecture of 20 March was attended by Lisa Lu Yan and Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia, two renowned actresses linked to the production of The Last Aristocrats.