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Professors: Jonathan W. Best (Art History), (Director of Center-Spring), John T. Frazer (Art), Yoshiko Yokochi Samuel (Asian Languages and Literatures), Vera Schwarcz (History), David A. Titus (Government)(Chair), Ellen B. Widmer (Asian Languages and Literatures), Janice D. Willis (Religion)

Associate Professors: William D. Johnston (History), James McGuire (Government), Karen Smyers (Religion), Phillip Wagoner (Art History), Su Zheng (Music) (Chair and Director of Center-Fall)

Assistant Professors: Stephen Angle (Philosophy), Terry Kawashima (Asian Languages and Literatures), Xinmin Liu (Asian Languages and Literatures)

Adjunct Associate Professor: Seiji Naito (Asian Languages and Literatures)

Adjunct Instructor: Xiaomiao Zhu (Asian Languages and Literatures)

Curator: Patrick Dowdey (The Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies)

Visiting Artist: Keiji Shinohara (Art and Art History)

Visiting Instructor: Beverly Nelson (Asian Languages and Literatures)

Departmental Advising Experts: All Program Faculty


The East Asian Studies Program challenges students to understand the cultures of China and Japan through the rigors of language study and the analytical tools of various academic disciplines. This prismatic process demands both broad exposure to different subjects and a focused perspective on a particular feature of the East Asian cultural landscape. Japan and China are related yet distinctive civilizations. Each has its own tradition and pattern of development. These traditions have played an important role in the development of culture around the globe and remain formative influences today.

Students interested in East Asian studies will be guided by the expectations for liberal learning at Wesleyan and by the program’s interdisciplinary approach. Language, literature, history, and the sophomore colloquium provide the common core of our program. The colloquium will expose students to a wide variety of intellectual approaches to East Asian studies and will thereby provide a foundation for the student to focus in more depth on particular areas. Prospective majors are urged to start their language and history courses early in their Wesleyan studies. This will leave more time for study abroad and for meaningful work in the concentration of the student’s choice. To help students chart their way, the program faculty has designated the programs of study listed below. Before deciding on a specific course of study, students must consult with an academic advisor in East Asian studies. Admission to the major requires approval of the program chair and designation of an East Asian studies academic advisor.

Requirements for the major

1. Satisfactory completion of the intermediate level of either Chinese or Japanese. All students are strongly urged to go beyond this minimum. New majors who place higher than the third year of language are strongly urged to undertake more advanced language work or to study the language with which they are less familiar, depending on the particular needs of the student.

2. EAST 201–The Confucian Tradition in East Asia (Sophomore Colloquium). The aim of this course is to introduce prospective majors to a range of fields and methodologies that comprise East Asian studies at Wesleyan. The material will be organized into several disciplinary modules, each contributing to a central theme. The modules will vary from year to year. Examples are art history, economics, government, history, language and linguistics, literature, music, philosophy, and religion. (Can be waived in consultation with chair.)

3. EAST 223/HIST 223–Traditional China

4. EAST 225/HIST 225–The History of Japan to 1800

5. One course in East Asian literature

6. One additional East Asian studies course, to be decided in consultation with the advisor.

7. Four courses in one of the concentrations listed below or in a concentration designed through close consultation between the student and his or her academic advisor. All concentrations must have the approval of the program chair. Concentrations currently offered are art history, China, Chinese language and literature, gender in East Asia, history, Japan, Japanese language and literature, political economy, and philosophy and religion.

8. A senior project can now be completed in several formats:

  1. By taking the senior seminar and writing a research paper in this context.
  2. By doing a creative project in the context of an upper level seminar, with the approval of the disciplinary advisor.
  3. By doing an independent research or artistic project with a designated advisor, it is encouraged that all majors use some form of original sources, preferably in the language area of their concentration, in the execution of their senior project.

Accordingly, East Asian studies majors should devote one or, preferably, two semesters to study at an approved program in China, Japan, or Taiwan. (Students whose exceptional circumstances make study abroad problematic may petition the program faculty to have this requirement waived.) Students must consult the International Studies Office for detailed information on study abroad.

Criteria for departmental honors. To qualify for departmental honors, the student must complete a thesis, perform a concert, or mount an exhibition or related project under the supervision of a faculty member of the East Asian Studies Program. Responsibility for overseeing the senior project rests with the tutor.

Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies. East Asian studies majors are urged to take full advantage of the unique learning opportunities provided through the Freeman Center. Each of the resources listed below can become a means to obtain a deeper appreciation of the cultures of China and Japan.

• Shoyoan, a room in the style of Japanese domestic architecture, and its adjoining Japanese-style garden, Shoyoan Teien (Shoyoan garden), were planned as an educational resource. The ensemble provides a tangible means of experiencing Japanese aesthetics and exploring the cultural values that these spaces embody. The Shoyoan room and garden are actively used for a variety of purposes, ranging from meetings of small classes and Japanese tea ceremonies to quiet contemplation and meditation.

• The annual Mansfield Freeman Lecture brings to campus each year a particularly eminent speaker on East Asia.

• A weekly colloquium series augments the curriculum further through lectures and performances reflecting all aspects of East Asian culture.

• Study collections of East Asian art and historical archives were established in 1987 with an initial gift of Chinese works of art and historical documents from Dr. Chih Meng, founding director of the China Institute in America, and his wife, Huan-shou Meng. Items are available for study and research by Wesleyan students and outside scholars.


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