East Asian Studies

Calvin Chen, Chair

Denise Falk, Academic Department Coordinator

112 Ciruti Center

Overview and Contact Information

One of four interdisciplinary majors within the Asian Studies program, East Asian studies allows students to specialize in the history, languages, cultures, and politics of East Asia. Complementing course work at Mount Holyoke are extracurricular activities and study abroad programs that broaden and deepen students’ understanding of Asia.

Language study is the core component of the major. We offer four levels of instruction in Chinese, three in Japanese, and two in Korean. Our students are expected to incorporate the humanities and the social sciences fully into their studies with classes at Mount Holyoke and the other colleges in the Five College Consortium.

On campus, our students experience regional culture at many levels, including language tables and clubs, guest lectures, performing and visual arts, film, festivals, and regional cuisine. These activities are often initiated by and benefit greatly from the diverse student population of Mount Holyoke and particularly the large numbers of students from Asian countries or with an Asian background.

Most of our students spend a semester or a summer in study abroad programs. Mount Holyoke College has affiliated programs or exchanges in China at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, Peking University (summer), and University of Hong Kong; in Japan at the Associated Kyoto Program (year) and the Japan Women’s University; and in South Korea at the Ewha Womans University and the Sookmyung Women’s University.

East Asian Studies majors and minors graduate to pursue graduate studies and careers in fields as varied as law, education, business, NGOs, journalism, the arts, and government service.

Minors in Chinese and Japanese are available; see their own sections of the catalog.

See Also

Learning Goals

By majoring in East Asian Studies, students should:

  • Develop proficiency in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. By "proficiency" we mean the ability to:
    • Read newspapers, magazines, and popular literature.
    • Converse with a native speaker on non-technical subjects.
    • Write coherent paragraphs on non-technical subjects.
  • Develop knowledge of the history of premodern and modern East Asia.
  • Develop knowledge of the arts, literature, religions, and philosophies of East Asia.
  • Develop knowledge of the geography, politics, economics, and societies of East Asia.


This area of study is administered by the Asian Studies Committee:

Satyananda Gabriel, Professor of Economics

Rie Hachiyanagi, Professor of Art, On Leave 2021-2022

Sohail Hashmi, Professor of International Relations on the Alumnae Foundation and Professor of Politics

Kavita Khory, Ruth Lawson Professor of Politics; Carol Hoffmann Collins Director of the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives

Susanne Mrozik, Professor of Religion, Teaching Spring Only

Naoko Nemoto, Professor of Asian Studies

Joshua Roth, Professor of Anthropology

Ajay Sinha, Julie '73 and Helene '49 Herzig Professor of Art History, Teaching Spring Only

Ying Wang, Felicia Gressitt Bock Professor of Asian Studies

Elif Babul, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Teaching Fall Only

Calvin Chen, Associate Professor of Politics

Amina Steinfels, Associate Professor of Religion

Lan Wu, Assistant Professor of History

Lisha Xu, Senior Lecturer in Asian Studies

Heba Arafah, Five College Lecturer in Arabic

Jinhwa Chang, Lecturer in Japanese

Kyae-Sung Park, Five College Lecturer in Korean

Richard Chu, Five College Associate Professor of History

Mohamed Hassan, Five College Senior Lecturer in Arabic

May George, Five College Lecturer in Middle East Studies

Nahla Khalil, Five College Lecturer in Arabic

Suk Massey, Five College Lecturer in Korean

Shaimaa Moustafa, Five Colleage Lecturer in Arabic

Chan Young Park, Five College Lecturer in Korean

John Weinert, Five College Lecturer in Arabic

Alice Kao, Teaching Associate in Chinese

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 40 credits:

Four courses (16 credits) in, equivalent to two years of college-level study of, an East Asian language: Chinese, Japanese, or Korean 116
HIST-137Modern East Asia, 1600-20004
or POLIT-228 East Asian Politics
At least three non-language courses (12 credits) on East Asia, including at least one from each of the following two groups:12
Group One: Humanities (literature, art, history, philosophy, and religion and interdisciplinary courses in these areas) 2, 3
Group Two: Social Sciences (anthropology, economics, geography, international relations, linguistics, politics, and sociology interdisciplinary courses in these areas)
Two additional courses (8 credits) to complete the major8
At least three courses (12 credits) must be at the 300 level. One of the three 300-level courses must be a non-language and non-independent study course. 4
Total Credits40

Additional Specifications

  • Any course that devotes 50 percent or more of its substance to East Asian countries, peoples, or issues may be included in the major.
  • One course on East Asian diasporas (e.g., Asian American studies) may count toward the major.
  • Students who declare an East Asian studies major automatically fulfill the College's "outside the major" requirement.

Related Courses Counting toward the East Asian Studies Major

Most East Asian studies courses at Mount Holyoke are listed below, but students should also consult the catalog entries or websites of other departments, including art history, history, international relations, politics, and religion. East Asian Studies majors should also plan to use the rich resources of the Five College Consortium in selecting their courses (listings are available through the Five College Class Schedule or individual college websites).

Please consult the chair of Asian Studies for guidelines regarding Asian languages not taught in the Five Colleges.

ANTHR-204Anthropology of Modern Japan4
Art History
ARTH-261Arts of China4
ARTH-262Arts of Japan4
Art Studio
ARTST-269Japanese Papermaking and Aesthetics4
Asian Studies
ASIAN-110First Year Chinese I6
ASIAN-111First Year Chinese II6
ASIAN-120First Year Japanese I6
ASIAN-121First Year Japanese II6
ASIAN-160First Year Korean I4
ASIAN-161First Year Korean II4
ASIAN-212Second Year Chinese I6
ASIAN-213Second Year Chinese II6
ASIAN-215Androgyny and Gender Negotiation in Contemporary Chinese Women's Theater4
ASIAN-222Second Year Japanese I6
ASIAN-223Second Year Japanese II6
ASIAN-247Chinese Women Writers in the 20th and 21st Centuries4
ASIAN-262Second Year Korean I4
ASIAN-263Second Year Korean II4
ASIAN-310Third Year Chinese I4
ASIAN-311Third Year Chinese II4
ASIAN-312Newspaper Reading and Journalistic Practice in China4
ASIAN-313SHAdvanced Chinese Reading: 'Reading Chinese Classics: 17th Century Short Stories'2
ASIAN-314Learning Chinese Through Film4
ASIAN-315Business Culture and Communication in China4
ASIAN-324Third Year Japanese I4
ASIAN-326Third Year Japanese II4
ASIAN-340Love, Gender-Crossing, and Women's Supremacy: A Reading of The Story of the Stone4
Film, Media, Theater
FMT-230CWIntermediate Courses in History and Theory: 'Androgyny and Gender Negotiation in Contemporary Chinese Women's Theater'4
Gender Studies
GNDST-204CWWomen and Gender in the Study of Culture: 'Androgyny and Gender Negotiation in Contemporary Chinese Women's Theater'4
GNDST-206CGWomen and Gender in History: 'Women and Gender in China'4
GNDST-333HHAdvanced Seminar: 'Love, Gender-Crossing, and Women's Supremacy: A Reading of The Story of the Stone'4
HIST-137Modern East Asia, 1600-20004
HIST-239MCTopics in Asian History: 'Borderlands and Ethnicity in Modern China'4
HIST-239METopics in Asian History: 'Cities in Modern East Asia'4
HIST-296CGWomen in History: 'Women and Gender in China'4
HIST-332Environmental History of China4
PHIL-212Philosophical Foundations of Chinese Thought: The Ancient Period4
POLIT-208Chinese Politics4
POLIT-228East Asian Politics4
POLIT-359Democratization and Civil Society in East Asia4
RELIG-163Introduction to Buddhism4
RELIG-241Women and Gender in Buddhism4
Russian & Eurasian Studies
RES-312Silk Roads: Ancient and Modern Highways Across the Eurasian Continent4