Interdivisional Programs

Asian Studies


The Asian Studies Program draws from courses in literature, history, politics, music, art history, anthropology, religion, and economics. With program faculty, students select a regional and disciplinary focus to create a coherent program of study. Although the program focuses on China, Japan, and South and Southeast Asia, students can investigate other regions. Intellectual emphasis is placed on comparative perspectives, both within Asia and with other regions.


Before Moderation, students should take four courses cross-listed with the Asian Studies Program. Students focusing on Chinese and Japanese studies are expected to have taken at least one year of Chinese or Japanese language and at least two courses cross-listed with Asian Studies. One of these courses should be in their field of future interest, which may be any of the disciplines taught in the Arts, Languages and Literature, or Social Studies Divisions. For graduation, Asian Studies students should complete a minimum of 40 credits in Asian Studies. Four credits (one course) must be an Asian Studies core course treating an aspect of Asia in comparative perspective. The Senior Project topic may be specific to a particular culture or may be comparative.

Students in Chinese and Japanese studies focusing on language and literature must have a minimum of 44 credits. They should complete at least three years of language study in either Chinese or Japanese and four courses cross-listed with Asian Studies. Of these, at least two courses should be on the literature of the student’s primary region, one course on the literature of another part of East Asia, and one course in non-Asian literature, preferably oriented toward literary theory.

Students focusing on the arts and/or social studies should complete at least two years of language study in either Chinese or Japanese and five courses cross-listed with Asian Studies. Of these, at least two courses should be in the primary discipline and region. At least one other course should be on the primary region of interest, plus one course in the primary discipline but that considers an area outside of Asia. Students of Chinese and Japanese studies should incorporate materials involving either language into their Senior Projects.

Recent Senior Projects in Asian Studies

  • “Endless Dishes: Encounters with the Transmission of Zen Buddhist Training from Japan to America”
  • “Representations of the Peasantry in Modern Chinese Fiction: Lu Xun, Mao Dun, Shen Congwen, and Jiang Rong”
  • “A Vacation for the Salaryman: Expressions of White-Collar Alienation in Postwar Japan”


A sampling of Asian Studies courses offered in the last few years includes courses from the Division of the Arts (Asian American Artists Seminar, East Meets West, Arts of China, Arts of India, Music of Japan, Asian Cinematic Modernisms); Division of Languages and Literature (Modern Chinese Fiction, Chinese Calligraphy, Representations of Tibet, Reading and Translating Japanese, Fiction from the Indian Subcontinent, Critical Orientalisms); and the Division of Social Studies (Culture and Globalization in Japan, International Politics of South Asia, Mao’s China and Beyond, Introduction to Modern Japanese History, Asian Economic History, Hindu Religious Traditions, Buddhist Thought and Practice, Classical Indian Philosophy).