East Asian Studies

Research produced by the East Asian Studies Department’s faculty stands on the forefront of scholarship on the cultures of China, Japan, and Korea, and our flexible, comprehensive curriculum is closely connected to their active research agendas. Core and affiliated faculty offer courses on traditional, modern and contemporary culture, in classes such as “The Karma of Words,” “Queer Japan,” and “China Through the Lens.” Our disciplinary interests vary widely— from Chinese feminism to contemplative studies—but converge in the understanding that East Asia must be seen as a dynamic site of transcultural relations, one that can be enriched through global and interdisciplinary perspectives. In our teaching and research, faculty and students collaborate actively with many different departments on campus from the humanities, social sciences, and beyond. We also encourage students to expand their understanding of East Asia’s geographical borders by enrolling in classes offered by the Program for Race and Ethnicity and by American Studies, which explore the experience of East Asians across the globe.

As a means for understanding and producing knowledge about the complexity of East Asia’s cultures, the department places special emphasis on rigorous language training. Concentrators gain a high competence in one or more East Asian languages through classes offered on campus, and by way of study abroad opportunities offered at a dozen leading universities throughout Asia, in cities from Kyoto to Seoul to Harbin. Our multilingual faculty teaches Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Korean, as well as Classical Chinese and Japanese. It also offers advanced classes on film, popular culture, gender, and literature taught in the original languages as a means of training students to interpret texts in sophisticated and nuanced ways. We expect all concentrators to make use of their language skills in final projects, which in recent years have included a documentary film about North Korea, a study of online Shinto shrines, and an exploration of legal reform in Qing Dynasty China.

A dynamic department in an ever growing field, East Asian Studies prepares Brown students to “discharge the offices of life with usefulness and reputation” by fostering the philological expertise, critical spirit, and historical insight needed for a lifetime of learning about East Asia.