East Asian Studies

Academic Program Introduction

East Asia is steeped in tradition yet forward-looking; divided yet interconnected; locally diverse yet globally central; fraught with uncertainty yet full of hope. For scholars, artists, and activists, it is a region of tremendous cultural, political, social, and economic interest.

We offer a customizable interdisciplinary major in coursework focused on Korea, Japan, and China. Students choose a concentration in one of these countries or a specific disciplinary approach. Courses are required in the social sciences and humanities, including work in languages. Balancing breadth and depth, students learn about particular East Asian societies as well as the historical and contemporary links between them.

Learning goals

  • Develop comprehensive knowledge in the area of concentration from a variety of disciplines, including art, history, literature, linguistics, politics, and religion.

  • Formulate various perspectives from which to examine events in traditional and contemporary East Asia.

  • Display language proficiency appropriate for social and professional settings in speaking, listening, reading, and writing in Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, or Korean.

Programs of Study

East Asian studies major

Students develop an understanding of East Asia as an interconnected region intertwined with the rest of the world.

Course Highlights

  • This course examines Chinese art in the socially and politically tumultuous twentieth century,which witnessed the end of imperial China, the founding of the Republic, the rise of the People's Republic, the calamity of Mao's cultural revolution, the impact of the West, and the ongoing social and economic reforms. Critical issues of examination include the encounters of East and West, the tensions of tradition and revolution, the burdens of cultural memory and historical trauma, the interpretations of modernity and modernism, the flowering of avant-garde and experimental art, and the problems of globalization and art markets. The course is designed to develop an understanding of the diverse threads of art and society in twentieth-century China.

Research highlights

  • Sun-Hee Lee sits at her desk and smiles softly.

    Professor Sun-Hee Lee is focusing on Korean formulaic and stance expressions, developing a Korean learner corpus, and examining public discourse on the North Korean defectors, the #MeToo movement, and #AntiAsian Hate.

  • Eve Zimmerman gesticulates as she speaks to someone who is out of focus in the foreground.

    Professor Eve Zimmerman studies how female writers refashion the category of “girlhood” in postwar Japanese fiction, manga, and memoir. Her translation of “Remaining Flowers” by Nakagami Kenji can be found in the Penguin Collection of Contemporary Japanese Fiction (2020).

  • Heng Du sits at her desk and flips through a book of early Chinese writing.

    Professor Heng Du’s current book project, Paratext and the Transformation of Early Chinese Writings, explores the intentions of the nameless thinkers and compilers involved in manuscript production.


  • East Asian studies and East Asian languages and cultures (EALC) opportunities

    Numerous summer and academic year study-abroad options, internships, and fellowships are available. Learn more about these opportunities on the EALC page.

East Asian Studies Program

Green Hall
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
Robert Goree
Program Director
Anna(HyeYoung) Park
Academic Administrator