East Department

About the Major

Department/Program Description.

The College of East Asian Studies challenges the student to understand China, Japan, and Korea through the rigors of language study and the analytical tools of various academic disciplines. This process demands both broad exposure to different subjects and a focused perspective on a particular feature of the East Asian landscape. Japan, China, and Korea are related yet distinctive civilizations. Each has its own traditions and patterns 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 proseminar provides the common core of our program. The proseminar 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.

Admission to the Major.

Prospective majors are urged to start their language and history courses early in their Wesleyan careers. This will leave more time for study abroad and for more meaningful work in the concentration of the student's choice. To help students chart their way, the college faculty has designed the concentrations listed below. Admission to the college is via application during the Spring semester of a student's first year.  Sophmores or above may petition to the CEAS Chair for admission; petitiions will typically be granted so long as the student has a clear path to completing the major's requirements.

Major Requirements.

To major in the College of East Asian studies requires seven courses, plus language, plus study abroad, and a senior capstone project.

All CEAS majors are expected to complete three core courses and four additional courses in their specific concentrations. Students will be responsible for keeping up-to-date their Major Certification Forms (in their electronic portfolios) in consultation with their advisors. 

Core courses: Each CEAS major is expected to take CEAS201, our proseminar, which is typically taken in the Sophomore year, as well as one survey course on traditional Chinese culture or history and one survey course on traditional Japanese history and culture. The goal is to ensure that each East Asian studies major is firmly anchored in the classical texts and key events that shaped the development of East Asian cultures before the 19th century.

The courses that count toward the traditional Japan requirement are:

  • CEAS209 Japan's "Others"
  • CEAS210 From Tea to Connecticut Rolls: Defining Japanese Culture Through Food
  • ARHA283 The Traditional Arts of Japan
  • HIST260 Intro to Japanese History

The courses that count toward the traditional China requirement are:

  • CEAS211 The Chinese Canon and Its Afterlife
  • CEAS212 Gender Issues in Chinese Literature and Culture
  • CEAS225 Introduction to Chinese Poetry
  • CEAS234 Representations of Men, Women, and Gender in China
  • ARHA281 The Traditional Arts of China
  • HIST223 History of Traditional China
  • HIST308 The Jewish Experience in China: From Kaifeng in the Song Dynasty to Shanghai During the Holocaust
  • PHIL205 Classical Chinese Philosophy
  • PHIL259 Neo-Confucian Chinese Phil
  • PHIL341 Confucianism and Virtue Ethics
Concentrations: Each CEAS major will be expected to choose one of the six concentrations listed below and to take at least four courses aimed at creating a methodological coherence in a specific area of study. Course offerings for each concentration may vary in some years according to faculty on campus.
  • Art History and Art. One art history seminar dealing with theory and method, to be chosen from:

    • ARHA358 Style and Stylistic Change: Creativity and the Recurrent Problem of Reaching an Audience in the Arts
    • ARHA360 Museum Studies


    Three additional courses dealing primarily East Asian art
  • Language, Literature, and Film. One literature or film theory or methodology course (which may or may not be an CEAS class), plus three additional courses in East Asian literature or film; this may include one class on Asian American literature or film. One semester of advanced language (beyond the four required semesters) may be counted as one of these three classes. It is also highly recommended that students additionally take at least one course in non-East Asian literature or film.

  • Music. A concentration in music emphasizes both the academic and performance approaches. Four courses are required:

    • Two required academic courses on East Asian music, such as:

        • MUSC261/CEAS268 Music and Modernity in China, Japan, and Korea

    • Two East Asian music performance courses, such as:
        • MUSC413/CEAS413 Korean Drumming Ensemble­-­Beginning
        • MUSC414/CEAS414 Korean Drumming Ensemble-Advanced I
        • MUSC415/CEAS415 Korean Drumming Ensemble-Advanced II
        • MUSC416/CEAS416 Beginning Taiko-Japanese Drumming
        • MUSC417/CEAS417 Intermediate Taiko-Japanese Drumming
        • MUSC418/CEAS418 Advanced Taiko-Japanese Drumming
        • MUSC428/CEAS428 Chinese Music Ensemble
        • MUSC405 Music lessons for koto or shamisen-with approval from faculty advisor
    • With faculty advisor approval, one of these required four courses can be replaced by one course on East Asian art, film, history, literature, philosophy, or religion (beyond the core requirements).
  • History. Students are expected to take at least one course in historiography (such as HIST362 Issues in Contemporary Historiography), two additional courses on the histories of China or Japan, as well as a course on the history of an area outside of East Asia for comparison.

  • Philosophy and Religion. Students are expected to take one core East Asian philosophy or religion course:

    • PHIL205 Classical Chinese Philosophy
    • RELI242 Buddhism: An Introduction

Two courses in philosophy and religion that have a substantial component on East Asia, and one course in either the history of Western philosophy or the religious tradition of a non-East Asian culture.

  • Political Economy. Students are expected to take one methods course, from among:

    • ECON101 Introduction to Economics
    • ECON110 Introduction to Economic Theory
    • GOVT155 International Politics
    • GOVT157 Democracy and Dictatorship: Politics in the Contemporary World

Three more courses in economics or government that have a substantial component on East Asia.

Study Abroad.

All CEAS majors are required to study abroad to develop their language competency and acquire a more concrete grasp of a specific East Asian cultural context. This requirement may be fulfilled through a semester or, preferably, one year in an approved program.

Capstone Experience.

All majors must complete a written or (with approval) creative project during their senior year. This should involve the use of East Asian language materials to the extent that the students' preparation permits. There are several ways in which this requirement can be fulfilled:

  • Write a substantial essay, focusing on East Asia, as assigned in a regular class. The instructor must approve of this project and may suggest revisions as needed. Similarly, faculty approval is required also for a creative project done in the context of a class or as a tutorial. If the class instructor is not an East Asian studies faculty member, the essay or the creative arts project must be approved by the student's East Asian studies advisor. Please note that this class can simultaneously fulfill other requirements.
  • Write a one-semester senior essay in a tutorial, preferably given by a CEAS faculty member. The tutorial may be for a full credit or for 0.5 credit.
  • Write a senior thesis, typically in a two-semester tutorial with a CEAS faculty member.
  • Furthermore, each student will be expected to present his or her research at a poster presentation toward the end of the spring semester of the senior year. This presentation is in addition to and apart from the actual research project. 

 

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 College of East Asian Studies. Responsibility for overseeing the senior project rests with the tutor. The evaluation committee for each honors candidate is comprised of the tutor, a faculty member from the program, and a Wesleyan faculty member outside the program. The committee is to be selected by the tutor and CEAS chair. For high honors, all three readers have to recommend the thesis for a grade of A- or higher.

Language Requirement.

CEAS majors are expected to reach a minimum of advanced level (third year) competency in the Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. Majors who are native speakers of Chinese, Japanese, or Korean are expected to study another East Asian language. All students need to maintain a grade of B or above by the time they reach advanced-level competency. All students must take a minimum of four semesters of East Asian language courses; this may mean being required to take language classes beyond the advanced level. Evaluation of an individual student's language competence will be undertaken by the relevant language coordinator, who will also determine how language courses not taken at Wesleyan count toward this requirement.

  • Questions about Chinese should be addressed to the Chinese language and co-curriculum coordinator, Prof. Xiaomiao Zhu. Questions about Japanese should be addressed to the Japanese language and co-curriculum coordinator, Prof. Etsuko Takahashi. Questions about Korean should be addressed to Prof. Hyejoo Back.
Prizes.
  • The Mansfield Freeman Prize was established in 1975 by Mansfield Freeman, class of 1916. It is awarded annually to a senior who has demonstrated overall excellence in East Asian studies and has contributed to improving the quality of our program.
  • P.L. Kellam Prize, in memory of Priscilla L. Kellam, Class of 1983, by her husband and parents. Awarded annually to a senior woman who has majored in the College of East Asian studies and has traveled or plans to travel to China and who has distinguished herself in her studies at Wesleyan.
  • The Condil Award, in memory of Caroline Condil, class of 1992, is awarded to a worthy College of East Asian studies major, preferably a sophomore or junior, who needs financial support for study in China.
  • Frances M. Sheng Prize - Award for Excellence in Chinese language and excellence in Japanese languagee
Additional Information.

Student fellowships. The College of East Asian Studies offers up to two student fellowships each year. To be eligible, applicants must be writing a senior thesis for honors. The fellowship provides shared office space at the Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies that is accessible at any time throughout the academic year, including weekends, evenings, and during academic breaks. Fellows also have after-hours access to the center’s reference library, enjoy use of the center’s printer for printing the final copy of their thesis, and have abundant opportunities for interaction with center faculty and staff.