Multidisciplinary Studies

Undergraduate Programs

Major in East Asian Studies

The East Asian Studies major is an interdisciplinary approach to the languages, deep history, and uncommonly rich culture of this increasingly important part of the world. Students in this major study Chinese or Japanese for at least two full years, and they must take classes in at least three—and they can take classes in four—departments in order to achieve a broad and deep understanding of East Asia.

Students begin their study of East Asia by taking three introductory courses, arranged historically, on the literature, history, religions, visual culture, and other foundational aspects of the region. In addition, they take a cornerstone course entitled “Approaches to East Asian Studies” that introduces them to the East Asian region as a whole, and also prepares them for the interdisciplinary theories and methods involved in the study of East Asia.

For their advanced-level work, students choose four courses from a wide variety of offerings dealing with China, Japan, and Korea. These courses complement their understanding of East Asian history and culture through specialized material covering topics such as Chinese society after Mao; contemporary Chinese visual culture; the two Koreas; the culture of Zen; anime; and women and religion in East Asia.

East Asian Studies can be completed either as a humanities or as a social sciences major. See below for instructions on divisional requirements. Students who major in East Asian Studies are strongly encouraged to study abroad.

Students who complete the major in East Asian Studies will have a broad knowledge of the major historic developments, cultures, literary and artistic expressions, philosophies, religions, and economies and politics of the region. They will be able to synthesize their knowledge of the region across disciplinary perspectives, and they will have an intermediate-level proficiency in either Chinese or Japanese.

Study Abroad and Overlap Policy: No more than 2 courses may overlap between this major and another major. Major advisors will determine the amount of credit granted and major requirements fulfilled by study abroad programs on a case-by-case basis.

Students must take East Asian Studies courses from at least 3 different departments to satisfy the requirements for the minor. Cross-listed courses will be considered according to their original parent department.

(Note that for purposes of this major CHI and JPN do not count as separate departments.) Cross-listed courses will be considered according to the parent department of the course.

The East Asian Studies major may be used to fulfill either the Humanities (H) or Social Sciences (S) divisional requirement.

East Asian Studies consists of ten credited courses. The cornerstone course (EST 201, “Approaches to East Asian Studies”) will be counted as neutral; the two language courses that count toward the major are considered neutral for the purposes of this major. This leaves seven courses to determine a simple majority. Students who complete four out of the seven courses in the Humanities (H) will fulfill the Humanities requirement. Students who complete four out of the seven courses in the Social Sciences (S) will fulfill the Social Science requirement. Courses will be assessed according to the “parent” department of the course. For example:

Humanities (H) Social Sciences (S)
Modern Languages & Cultures
(courses denoted by CHI & JPN)
Anthropology (ANT)
Religion (REL) History (HIS)

Spring 2015 Courses


  • One year of Chinese or Japanese language courses
  • 10 courses total, with the following requirements (see I, II, III, IV below)

I. Three foundational survey courses (one each from the A, B, and C groups):

Group A: Pre-Modern East Asia

  • CHI 211 Pre-Modern Chinese Literature
  • HIS 140 East Asia to 1600
  • HIS 142 Traditional China
  • JPN 210 Traditional Japanese Literature & Culture
  • REL 1xx Introduction to Chinese Religions

Group B: Modern East Asia

  • CHI 212 Cities and the Country in Modern Chinese Literature
  • HIS 141 East Asia since 1600
  • HIS 143 Modern China
  • HIS 145 Modern Japan
  • HIS 342W Rich China, Poor China 
  • JPN 283 History of Japanese Film

Group C: Contemporary East Asia

  • ANT 257 Chinese Society After Mao
  • CHI 235 Contemporary Chinese Visual Culture
  • HIS 244 China-U.S. Relations
  • JPN 246 Issues in Contemporary Japanese Culture
  • JPN 291 Contemporary Japanese Film

II. One additional year of language training:

Students who place out of lower-level language courses must demonstrate language proficiency equivalent to or better than completion of CHI 152 or JPN 152 in order to have this requirement waived. Note: Students are encouraged to study abroad and to continue studying a language to advanced levels, but only two language courses may count toward the total 10-course requirement for the major. Students who place out of the language requirement entirely must still complete a total of ten courses for the major.

III. EST 201: Approaches to East Asian Studies:

The 1-semester cornerstone course for majors. (Prerequisite: must have taken two non-language courses in East Asian Studies before enrolling)

IV. Four electives, two of which must be writing-intensive courses that meet the College’s upper-level writing requirement for graduation:

(In Anthropology, English, and Modern Languages and Cultures, all courses numbered 200 and above are writing intensive.) Students may also make individual arrangements with instructors of 200-level courses within the East Asian Studies major to fulfill the writing requirement in courses not otherwise covered by departmental upper-level writing policies or not designated with a “W.”

Sample List of Available Electives:

  • ANT 257 Chinese Society After Mao
  • CHI 103 Ways of Seeing: Contemporary Asian Art
  • CHI 211 Pre-Modern Chinese Literature
  • CHI 212 Cities and the Country in Modern Chinese Literature
  • CHI 213 History and Structure of Chinese and Japanese
  • CHI 214 Dream of the Red Chamber
  • CHI 215 Powers of Images
  • CHI 220 Chinese Landscapes
  • CHI 235 Contemporary Chinese Visual Culture
  • CHI 283 China’s Silk Road
  • HIS 100 The Chinese Revolution (section of Gateway to History)
  • HIS 187 The Mongols
  • HIS 244/244W China-U.S. Relations
  • HIS 245 Tibet: History and Myth
  • HIS 247/247W The Korean War
  • HIS 248/248W The Samurai
  • HIS 340W/440 Modernity through East Asian Eyes
  • HIS 342W Rich China, Poor China
  • JPN 208 Traditions in Japanese Art
  • JPN 210W Traditional Japanese Literature & Culture
  • JPN 214 Atomic Creatures: Godzilla
  • JPN 219aW Tourist Japan
  • JPN 233 /233W The Culture of Zen
  • JPN 246W Issues in Contemporary Japanese Culture
  • JPN 269 The Floating World of Japanese Art, 1570-1870
  • JPN 274 Modern Japanese Women Writers
  • JPN 283 History of Japanese Cinema
  • JPN 285 Akira Kurosawa
  • JPN 291 Contemporary Japanese Film
  • JPN 292 Anime: Japanese Animation
  • JPN 294 Hayao Miyazaki and Planet Ghibli