Asian Studies Website

ASIAN STUDIES (Div. I & II, see explanation below)

Chair, Professor GEORGE T. CRANE

Professors: C. KUBLER*, YAMADA. Assistant Professors: C. CHANG, KAGAYA*, SILBER, YAMAMOTO*. Visiting Assistant Professor: STAHL. Visiting Lecturers: SAKURAI, SUDA. Adjunct Faculty for the Major: Professors: CRANE, DREYFUS, JUST. Associate Professors: JANG***, A. SHEPPARD, WONG*. Assistant Professors: DE BRAUW, FRANKL*, REEVES.

The Department of Asian Studies offers courses in English in the field of Asian Studies as well as courses in Chinese and Japanese language and literature. Three distinct majors are offered: a major in Chinese; a major in Japanese; and an interdisciplinary Asian Studies major which allows students to choose from a wide range of courses in the anthropology, art, economy, history, languages, literatures, music, politics, religion, and sociology of China, Japan, and other Asian countries. Students with questions about the Asian Studies majors or about Asian Studies course offerings should consult the chair. Please note: courses with ASST prefix carry Division II credit and courses with CHIN and JAPN prefixes carry Division I credit.


All students wishing to major in the Department of Asian Studies are required to take and pass a total of eleven courses, as follows:

  1. 1) four semesters of Chinese or Japanese language
  2. 2) Asian Studies 201

In addition to completing (1) and (2) above, all majors choose either an Area Studies track, leading to a degree in Asian Studies; or a Language Studies track, leading to a degree in Chinese or Japanese. The requirements for each of these tracks are indicated below:

  1. 3A) Area Studies track
  2. a. a three-course qualification in one of the disciplines represented within Asian Studies (anthropology/sociology, art history, economics, history, literature, music, political science, religion). The qualification, to be determined through consultation between students and their advisor, normally includes an introductory course, a more advanced methodological or comparative course, and a course on Asia.
  3. b. three approved electives, which may include further language work
  4. 3B) Language Studies track
  5. a. four additional semesters of Chinese or Japanese language
  6. b. two approved electives with a substantial focus on the country or countries whose language the student is studying
  7. Electives

Anthropology 213 Center and Periphery: State, Society and the Individual in Southeast Asia

ArtH 172 Introduction to Asian Art: From the Land of the Buddha to the World of the Geisha

ArtH 270 Japanese Art and Culture

ArtH 274 Chinese Calligraphy: Theory and Practice

ArtH 376 Image and Anti-images: Zen Art in China and Japan

Chinese 131 Basic Cantonese

Chinese 152 Basic Taiwanese

Chinese 234/Comparative Literature 216 Post-Mao Literature and Culture

Chinese 243 Gender Issues in Traditional Chinese Literature (Deleted 2002-2003)

Chinese 244/Comparative Literature 218 Writer and Society in Twentieth-Century China

Chinese/Comparative Literature 275 China's Greatest Novel

Chinese 412 Introduction to Classical Chinese

Chinese/Linguistics 431 Introduction to Chinese Linguistics

Economics/Environmental Studies 218 Population Economics (Deleted 2002-2003)

Economics/Environmental Studies/Women's and Gender Studies 223 Gender and Economic Development (Deleted 2002-2003)

English/American Studies 367 Treacherous Terrain: Asian American Literacy and Cultural Production (Deleted 2002-2003)

History 112 The Mao Cult

History 212 Barbarians in the Middle Kingdom: China to 1850

History 213 Modern China, 1850-Present: Continuity and Change

History 216 Modern Japan (Deleted 2002-2003)

History/Women's and Gender Studies 313 Women in Chinese History

History 384 Comparative Asian-American History, 1850-1965

History 385 Contemporary Issues in Recent Asian-American History, 1965-Present

History 395 Vietnam (Deleted 2002-2003)

History 470 The Chinese-American Experience

History 473 Stuff

Japanese/Comparative Literature 271 Traditional Japanese Literature into the Twentieth Century

Japanese/Comparative Literature 276 Premodern Japanese Literature and Performance

Music 126 Musics of Asia

Political Science 247 Political Power in Contemporary China

Political Science 265 The International Politics of East Asia

Political Science 341 The Politics of the Global Economy: Wealth and Power in East Asia

Religion 241 Hinduism: Construction of a Tradition

Religion 242 Buddhism: Concepts and Practices

Religion 245 Tibetan Civilization

Religion 304 From Hermeneutics to Post-Coloniality


Students intending to major in Asian Studies are encouraged to study in Asia during one or both semesters of their junior year. Williams sponsors study abroad programs in China and Japan. Opportunities to study in India, Indonesia, Korea, Thailand, and other Asian countries are also available. Prospective Asian Studies majors who are planning to study abroad should discuss their plans with their advisor as far in advance as possible. Up to eight courses taken overseas can count toward graduation, and up to four courses taken overseas may be counted toward the major.


Students interested in writing an honors thesis in Asian Studies, Chinese, or Japanese should submit a proposal to the department chair when they register for courses in the spring of their junior year. The proposal should include a statement of the topic, a general description of the types of materials available for study and how the study will be carried out, and the name of the faculty member who will serve as advisor. Admission to the honors thesis program will normally be limited to students who have maintained at least a B+ average in their courses for the major.

Students admitted to the program should register for ASST 493-W031-494, CHIN 493-W031-494, or JAPN 493-W031-494. They will be expected to turn in the final draft of their thesis shortly after spring break and to discuss their results formally with their faculty graders. Their final grades in the three courses listed above and the award of Honors, Highest Honors, or no honors will be determined by the quality of the thesis and the student's performance in the oral defense.


The Linen summer grants for study abroad, the Linen visiting professorships, and several other programmatic activities in the department are supported by an endowment for Asian Studies established by family and friends in memory of James A. Linen III, Class of 1934, Trustee of the College from 1948 to 1953 and from 1963 to 1982.


The department regularly offers four levels of instruction in Modern Standard Chinese (Mandarin), designed to enable the student to become proficient in aural comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing, as well as introductory courses in Cantonese, Taiwanese, Classical Chinese, and Chinese linguistics. The course numbering system for Chinese is sequential. Students move from Chinese 101-102 to 201, 202, 301, 302, 401, and 402. Independent study (Chinese 497, 498) may be offered depending on student needs and available resources; interested students must contact the coordinator of the Chinese Program well before the independent study is planned, and present a proposal to the program coordinator of the professor with whom they are interested in working by the first day of pre-registration week. Those students entering with proficiency in Chinese should see the program coordinator concerning placement.

The department also offers courses on Chinese literature in translation for those students who have no knowledge of the language but who wish to become acquainted with the major achievements in Chinese literary and intellectual history. Students having questions concerning these courses should also see Professor Silber. For the purpose of the distribution requirement, all courses in Chinese are considered Division I.


The department regularly offers four levels of language instruction in Modern Japanese, designed to enable the student to become proficient in aural comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. Courses in Japanese literature in translation are also offered. The course numbering system for Japanese is sequential. Students move from Japanese 101-102 to 201, 202, 301, 302, 401, and 402. Independent Study (Japanese 497, 498) is offered for students who have completed 402 or the equivalent. Those students entering with previous proficiency in Japanese should see Professor Yamamoto concerning placement. For the purpose of the distribution requirement, all courses in Japanese are considered Division I.