"This major will open doors": EALC launches new major in East Asian Humanities

guardian lion statue in front of Durant Hall with greenery in foreground
August 23, 2023

The department of East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALC) is excited to announce a new major in East Asian Humanities. "This major will open doors," says Chair Robert Ashmore.

The major takes a comparative approach across multiple disciplinary perspectives. It provides students with the opportunity to range across the rich diversity of East Asian cultures — Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, and Mongolian — through a wide array of disciplines including literary, cultural, visual, and sound studies, religion, philosophy, film and media studies, disability studies, and environmental humanities.

Although advanced language study is central to EALC's existing majors, the new major has no language prerequisites or requirements. Ashmore explains that while language is a tremendously valuable lens into the cultures of East Asia, this new structure removes barriers, especially for transfer students who have fewer semesters to complete language requirements.

And with Asian literature, culture, film, television, music, and thought so much a part of contemporary experience — think Manga, K-Pop, Zen Buddhism, and beyond — the new major is responsive to the way students want to approach the study of East Asian cultures.

"A lot of students are interested in exploring topics like new media, popular culture, music, or film — topics that are intrinsically comparative, where it doesn't make sense to just look at, say, Korea without considering Japan, Taiwan, or mainland China," Ashmore explains. "This structure allows for breadth of vision."

The East Asian Humanities major also provides students the opportunity to create their own intellectual itineraries, which might include media across East Asia, the great books of East Asia in translation, or religious and philosophical thought across the region. This flexibility will allow EALC to serve more students.

"The East Asian Humanities major will ensure that every student curious about Asian art, literature, and thought, including heritage speakers, has access to a field of inquiry," comments Arts and Humanities Dean Sara Guyer. "Not only will an examination of East Asian cultures train students as intellectuals, it also prepares them for myriad careers in politics and policy, tech, business, communications, non-profits, or medicine."

Students interested in learning more about the East Asian Humanities major should sign up for the EALC undergraduate mailing list or contact undergraduate advisor Cassandra Dunn.