East Asian Studies

Founders Hall East Asian Studies

The Pacific century? Many think so.

East Asia is the major mover and a focal point of interest for scholars, artists, musicians, social activists, the media, policy communities, and the young in age and spirit.

Tens of thousands of students from high school, college, university, and graduate school study in Asia each year. Hundreds of thousands more actively tour the region. Many such sojourners enjoy good food, make friends, become fluent in the local language, and plan careers in the region.

East Asia boasts a cultural revival, from cinema, pop music, to contemporary art, as well as fast and popular technological innovation. It is also a region of great political and sociological interest: China’s “rise” (China experts often refer to the phenomenon as “China’s Return”), North Korea’s military and economic dilemmas, Japan’s economic struggles and the March, 2011 experience of a major earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster all weigh heavily in our minds. And contrary to common belief, the people of East Asia are moving and mixing: Migration and tourism to other lands, as well as hundreds of thousands of newcomers from all over the world living, working, and having families in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, and other parts of the region. And yet, history and traditions, both revered and criticized, influence each society and the interactions among the various countries. East Asia is new and old, post-modern and traditional, nationalistic and cosmopolitan, fun and serious all at the same time. It promises great rewards through intellectual and cultural exploration.

Our East Asian Studies Program offers inquiry into many of these realities through an interdisciplinary major. Our faculty represent numerous areas of expertise and disciplinary training. The departments of Art History and Studio Art, Cinema and Media Studies, East Asian Languages and Cultures, History, Linguistics, Religion, Theatre Studies, Women and Gender Studies, and other social sciences are represented by faculty and the courses they teach. Through language proficiency and a combination of breadth and depth provided by a diverse array of courses, students learn about the historic and contemporary links between East Asian societies and how ideas, cultures, and politics flow within and outside the region and shape life in East Asia today.

Major languages and countries of study include Mandarin Chinese and China, Hong Kong, Taiwan; Japanese and Japan, Korean and North and South Koreas. We also offer some course materials on the Philippines, Vietnam, Mongolia, and other neighboring societies.