Asian Studies Program

Director (Acting): Martha Kaplan (Anthropology: South Asia and the Pacific); Steering Committee: Christopher Bjork (Education: Japan, Indonesia), Hiromi Tsuchiya Dollase (Language and Literature: Japan), Wenwei Du (Language and Literature: China), Tomo Hattori (English: Asian-American Studies), E. H. Rick Jarow (Religion: South Asia), Haoming Liu (Language and Literature: China), Seungsook Moon (Sociology: East Asia), Himadeep Muppidi (Political Science: South Asia), Peipei Qiu (Language and Literature: Japan), Bryan Van Norden (Philosophy and Literature: China), Michael Walsh (Religion: China), Andrew Watsky (Art History: East Asia), Yu Zhou (Geography: East Asia); Participating faculty: Yuko Matsubara, (Language and Literature: Japan), Anne Parries (Language and Literature: China).

The Asian Studies Program offers a multidisciplinary approach to the study of Asia with courses and advising in anthropology, art, economics, geography, history, language, literature and culture, philosophy, politics, religion, and sociology of Asia. While majors focus on a particular region of Asia (e.g., East Asia, South Asia) including language study, intermediate and advanced coursework, and a senior thesis in this area, they are also expected to be familiar with some other parts of Asia through the introductory courses and some coursework outside their area of specialty.

While majors take courses on Asia offered in a wide range of disciplines, they are also expected to choose one or two disciplines in which they develop a theoretical or methodological sophistication that they apply to their study of Asia, particularly in their thesis and senior seminar work. Students interested in developing a concentration in Asian American Studies should refer to the catalogue section of the American Culture Program.

A student’s program of study for the major is designed in close consultation with the director and an advisor. Students should obtain an application form, which includes a statement of interest, from the program office or the Asian Studies website prior to meeting with the program director. This should be done by the end of the first semester of the sophomore year if the student plans to apply for study abroad. The director and members of the program faculty review the application and make suggestions for modifications. Any changes to a plan of study should be discussed with the advisor in advance; significant changes are reviewed by the director.

Study Abroad: Study abroad in some region of Asia greatly enhances a student’s learning experience and understanding of Asia and is highly recommended for program majors. Advice and literature on different programs are available through the Office of the Dean of Studies (Study Abroad office), Asian Studies, and the *Department of Chinese and Japanese.

Asian Studies Courses: Courses approved for the Asian Studies major include courses offered by the Asian Studies Program (see Section I below) and Approved Courses (courses on Asia offered in other departments, see Section II below). A list of Asian Studies courses approved for majors is prepared and posted on the Asian Studies website before preregistration each semester. Courses not on the list which may be appropriate to an individual student’s plan of study are considered for approval by the director and steering committee upon special petition by the student major, after consultation with the advisor.

Requirements for the Concentration in Asian Studies: 12 units of which at least 7 are normally taken at Vassar. After declaration of the major, all courses taken towards the major must be graded. Students may request, however, that up to 1 unit of independent study or field work be counted towards the major.

1) Introductory-Level Study: Two introduction level courses either offered by Asian Studies or from the approved course list (excluding Asian Studies 182 and 160).

2) Language: Competency in one Asian language through the intermediate college level must be achieved and demonstrated by completion of relevant courses or special examination. 100-level language work does not count toward the major, and a maximum of 4 units of Asian language study are counted toward the 12 units for the major. Besides Chinese and Japanese offered by the Department of Chinese and Japanese, Hindi and Korean may be taken through the Self-Instructional Language Program.

3) Intermediate-Level Study: A minimum of 3 units of intermediate course work (200-level) of direct relevance to Asia in at least two disciplines, selected from the lists of Program Courses and Approved Courses below. Recommendation: At least two of these courses should be related to the student’s regional focus within Asia and at least one should be outside the area of regional specialty.

4) Advanced-Level Work: A minimum of 3 units at the 300-level including the designated Asian Studies “Senior Seminar”, 1 unit of thesis work (Asian Studies 300-301 or Asian Studies 302), and at least one additional 300-level seminar from the lists of Program Courses and Approved Courses below. The senior seminar and the thesis constitute the Senior Year Requirement.

5) Discipline-Specific Courses: Majors are expected to choose one or two disciplines in which they will take courses and develop a theoretical or methodological sophistication that they will bring to bear on their study of Asia, particularly in their thesis and senior seminar work. Introductory work in each discipline should be taken early to fulfill prerequisites for upper level work in the chosen discipline.

6) Area-Specific Courses: Majors should try to include three or four courses (not including language study) that focus on a student’s geographical area of specialization within Asia, and two courses that include a geographic area other than the region of focus.

I. Program Courses*

105a. Introduction to Asian Studies (1)

An introductory survey of the classical literary and cultural traditions of East and South Asia. The course focuses on the foundational ideals of Asian cultures as well as their “prevailing paradigms” found in literature, fine arts, and philosophical texts whose influence continues on to this day. Topics include (from India) Vedic Hymns, Epics, the Presence of the Buddha; (from Japan) the Way of the Warrior, the Lover from the Tales of Genji, and the Aesthetics of Emptiness; (from China) the Philosophy of Confucius, the Taoist Way of Zhuangzi, and the Dream of the Red Chamber. Mr. Jarow.

Open to all students.

110b. Asian Studies Study Trip: Visualizing Japan (1)

Normally the study trip takes place during the spring semester break, rotating to different destinations in Asia. Enrollment for the trip is determined early in the Fall semester.

Destination 2004/2005: Japan. The course, which is taught in conjunction with the study trip, examines how Japanese artists and patrons have employed the visual over the long course of Japanese history; the primary focus is the visual arts, especially painting, sculpture, architecture, and gardens, though other arts, such as literature and film, are also considered. A half unit Japanese for visitor course (Asian Studies 182) is offered for those who need elementary Japanese instruction. Mr. Watsky.

Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

152a. Religions of Asia (1)

(Same as Religion 152) This course is an introduction to the religions of Asia (Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Zen, Shinto, etc.) through a study of practices, sites, sensibilities, and doctrines. The focus is comparative as the course explores numerous themes, including creation (cosmology), myth, ritual, action, fate and destiny, human freedom, and ultimate values. Mr. Walsh.

Open to all students.

[160b. Introduction to Classical Chinese] (1)

(Same as Chinese 160) Classical Chinese is the literary language in which almost all of Chinese literature was written prior to the twentieth century. This course introduces students to the rudiments of reading Classical Chinese, with an emphasis on early Chinese philosophical texts. No previous background in Chinese language, history, or culture is required. Among the texts to be studied are passages from the sayings of Confucius and Taoist works. Mr. Van Norden.

Open to all students.

Not offered in 2004/2005.

182b. Introduction to Japanese for Visitors ( 1/2)

(Same as Japanese 182)

215b. Masterpieces of Traditional Chinese Literature (1)

(Same as Chinese 215) Selected works of Classical Chinese literature from a variety of periods and genres, such as the Book of Odes (early lyric poetry), the Tang Dynasty poems of Li Bo and Du Fu, historical narratives, including selections from the Book of Documents and the Zuo Zhuan, and the classic Chinese novels, such as Romance of the Three Kingdoms, The Scholars, and Dream of the Red Chamber. We discuss and interpret these texts from a variety of perspectives, including historical, structuralist, philosophical, feminist and “hermeneutics of suspicion.” Assignments include brief weekly essays. Instructor to be announced.

Prerequisite: one course in any humanities discipline, or Asian Studies, or permission of instructor.

[216. Classics Canon and Commentary in China] (1)

(Same as Chinese 216) Studying classic or canonical texts through commentarial traditions is a near universal form of education in pre-modern cultures. This course examines the nature, development and evolution of canons and commentaries, focusing on the immensely influential Five Classics and the Four Books of the Chinese tradition. We also read and discuss seminal Western discussions of canonicity and hermeneutics, including works by Emerson, Jaroslav Pelikan and Alasdair MacIntyre. Mr. Van Norden.

Prerequisite: one course in any humanities discipline, or Asian Studies, or permission of instructor.

Not offered in 2004/05.

223. Gothic and Supernatural in Japanese Literature (1)

(Same as Japanese 223) This course introduces students to Japanese supernatural stories. We interpret the hidden psyche of the Japanese and Japanese culture that creates such bizarre tales. We see not only to what extent the supernatural creatures -demons, vampires and mountain witches-in these stories represent the “hysteria” of Japanese commoners resulting from social and cultural oppression, but also to what extent these supernatural motifs have been adopted and modified by writers of various literary periods. This course consists of four parts; female ghosts, master authors of ghost stories, Gothic fantasy, and dark urban psyche. Examining the topics of “ghosts,” “demons” and “dark spirits” from various points of view, we eventually think about the relationship between the essence of human nature and society. Ms. Dollase.

Prerequisite: one language/literature/culture or Asian Studies course or permission of instructor.

231a. Hindu Traditions (1)

(Same as Religion 231) Mr. Jarow.

[232. Imagining the Dao: Daoism and Chinese Culture] (1)

(Same as Religion 232) Mr. Walsh.

Not offered in 2004/05.

233b. Buddhist Traditions (1)

(Same as Religion 233) Mr. Walsh.

235a. Religions of China (1)

(Same as Religion 235) Mr. Walsh.

[236. East Asia: People, Culture and Economic Development] (1)

(Same as Geography 236). An examination of the common and contrasting experiences of East Asian countries since the late nineteenth century. It emphasizes the regional contexts in which various environmental, cultural, social, political and economic forces overlay and interact, constituting the unique path of each country. Major themes include Japanese industrial organization, economic development in new industrialized countries, transformation of the Chinese economy after 1978 and regional integration of East Asia. Ms. Zhou.

Not offered in 2004/05.

254a. Chinese Politics and Economy (1)

(same as Political Science 254).

Two 75-minute periods.

272b. Comparative Education (1)

(Same as Education 272) Mr. Bjork.

280. Topic in Asian Studies (1)

Selected topics in Asian Studies. May be repeated for credit when a new topic is offered.

Topic for 2004/05: History of India. Instructor to be announced.

Open to non-majors.

290a or b. Field Work ( 1/2 or 1)

Prerequisites: 2 units of Asian Studies Program or approved coursework and permission of the program director.

298a or b. Independent Study ( 1/2 or 1)

Prerequisites: 2 units of Asian Studies Program or approved coursework and permission of the program director.

300-301. Senior Thesis ( 1/2)

A 1-unit thesis written over two semesters.

302a or b. Senior Thesis (1)

A 1-unit thesis written in the fall or spring semester. Students may elect this option only in exceptional circumstances and by special permission of the program director.

306a. Women’s Movements in Asia (1)

(Same as Sociology 306)

350a. Advanced Topics in Asian Studies (1)

An examination of selected topics relevant to the study of Asia in an interdisciplinary framework. Topics vary from year to year.

May be repeated for credit when a new topic is offered.

Open to nonmajors.

Topic for 2004/05: Comparative Methodology. (Same as Philosophy 350). An exploration of some of the methodological issues raised by the prospect of one culture understanding and making judgments about another. The course considers essays on ethical and cognitive relativism, incommensurability, and the hermeneutics of suspicion and faith. Although the focus is primarily methodological, recent Western approaches to understanding Chinese philosophy provide test cases for some of the theories examined. This course is open to all qualified students. Instructor to be announced.

Prerequisites: A 200-level course in Asian Studies or a 200-level course in Philosophy.

360b. Senior Seminar: Imagining Asia (1)

Does “the Orient” exist? On the other hand, does “the West” exist? This course explores Western scholarly images of Asia. It also traces the impact of Asian ideas and institutions on the West. Each time offered, the seminar has at least three foci, on topics such as: Asia and capitalism, Asia and the concept of culture, Asia and feminism, Asia and knowledge, Asia and Marxism. Ms. Kaplan.

In 2004-05, this course serves as the Senior Seminar for Asian Studies majors. Other students are also welcome to enroll.

364b. Senior Seminar: Imagining Asia (1)

(same as Political Science 364) This course is designed to introduce students to international relations in the East Asian region. Both security issues and economic relations among countries are emphasized throughout the course. In the first few weeks, we examine some historical events in this region. Topics include Western and Japanese imperialism, Cold War in East Asia, Korean War, Vietnam War, Sino-American normalization, triangular relationship, and the collapse of the Cold War order. The second part of the class surveys some major issues and relations that are crucial for the development of this region in the post Cold War era: US-Japan, US-China, Taiwan, Sino-Japanese, Korean Peninsula, Russia, and regional cooperation (APEC, ASEAN, and other regional organizations). Finally, we discuss the rise of China and its implications for the regional stability and world order. Throughout the course, we analyze what has made states less willing to cooperate with one another and explore the possibility of an East Asian identity in the world politics. Mr. Su.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period.

[384. The Literatures of Classical India: The Ayur-Ved] (1)

(Same as Religion 384). This seminar offers a comprehensive view of the traditional medical systems and healing modalities of India and China and examines the cultural values they participate in and propound. From a study of classical Ayur Vedic texts, Daoist alchemical manuals, and shamanic processes and their diverse structural systems, the course goes on to explore the relationship between healing systems, religious teachings, and social realities and looks at ways in which the value and practices of traditional medical and healing systems continue to be enacted in India, China and the West. Mr. Jarow.

Prerequisites: Hindu Traditions (Religion 231) or permission.

Not offered in 2004/05.

399a or b. Senior Independent Study ( 1/2 or 1)

Prerequisites: 2 units of Asian Studies Program or approved coursework and permission of the program director.

II. Approved Courses

In addition to the Program courses listed above, there are approved courses given in other departments and programs. These can count towards an Asian Studies major. Look under the respective departments for course descriptions and semester or year offered. An updated list of approved courses is available in the Asian Studies Program Office and on-line on the Asian Studies Program web site before preregistration. Students are also urged to consult the additional course offerings of Asian Studies Program faculty members listed under their home departments; while these courses may not focus specifically on Asia, they often include case studies, examples, or materials related to regions of Asia.

Anthropology 240. Cultural Localities 
(when topic is Asian) 

Art 257. The Arts of China (1)

Art 258. The Arts of Japan (1)

Art 259. Japanese Art of the Momoyama Period, 1568-1615 (1)

Art 260. Japanese Art of the Edo Period (1615-1868) (1)

Chinese 212. Chinese Film and Contemporary Fiction (1)

Chinese 214. The Tumultuous Century: Twentieth Century Chinese Literature (1)

Chinese and Japanese 120. Introduction to Chinese and Japanese Literature: Traditions, Genres and Methodology (1)

Chinese and Japanese 250. Special Topics in Chinese and Japanese Literatures (1)

  1. Experiencing the Other: Representation of Each Other in Chinese and Western Literature Since the Eighteenth Century
  2. Masterpieces of Classical Japanese Literature
  3. Chinese Popular Culture
  4. Introduction to Chinese Literature: Poetry and Fiction

Chinese and Japanese 361. Chinese and Japanese Drama and Theatre (1)

Chinese and Japanese 362. Women in Japanese and Chinese Literature (1)

Chinese and Japanese 363. Seminar: Transcending the Limit: Literary Theory in the East-West Context (1)

Economics 268. Economic development in less developed countries (1)

English 228. Asian/American Literature (1)

Geography 340. Advanced Regional Studies 
(when topic is Asian) 

History 112. Modern Asia: Tradition and Transformation (1)

History 222. Modern China (1)

History 224. Modern Japan (1)

History 279. The Vietnam War (1)

History 324. Politics and Wars in East Asia (1)

Japanese 222. Narratives of Japan: Fiction and Film (1)

Japanese 224. Japanese Popular Culture and Literature (1)

Japanese 364. The West in Japanese Literature since the Nineteenth Century (1)

Music 212. World Musics (1)

Philosophy 110. Early Chinese Philosophy (1)

Philosophy 210. Neo-Confucianism and Chinese Buddhism (1)

Philosophy 350. Seminar in Chinese Philosophy-Comparativve Methodology (1)

Political Science 280. Subaltern Politics (1)

Political Science 363. Decolonizing International Relations (1)

Religion 250. Across Religious Boundaries: Understanding Differences 
(when topic is Asian) 

Religion 350. Comparative Studies in Religion 
(when topic is Asian) 

Sociology 236. Women, Men and Social Change in East Asia (1)

Sociology 347. Reenvisioning Women in the Third World (1)