Location: Bowdoin / The College Catalogue / Courses / Asian Studies

The College Catalogue

Asian Studies – Overview

Vyjayanthi Ratnam Selinger, Program Director

Suzanne M. Astolfi, Program Coordinator

Professors: John C. Holt (Religion), Shu-chin Tsui (Cinema Studies)

Associate Professors: Songren Cui, Belinda Kong† (English), Henry C. W. Laurence (Government), Vyjayanthi Ratnam Selinger, Rachel Sturman* (History)

Assistant Professors: Christopher Heurlin** (Government), Peggy Wang (Art History), Leah Zuo (History)

Senior Lecturer: Hiroo Aridome

Lecturer: Xiaoke Jia

Research Assistant Professor: Sree Padma Holt

Visting Faculty: Tristan Grunow (History), Sara Y. T. Mak (Government), Carmen

Wickramagamage (Religion)

Contributing Faculty: Connie V. Chiang, David Collings, Rachel Ex Connelly, Sara A. Dickey, Nancy E. Riley, Vineet Shende, Yao Tang

Students in Asian studies focus on the cultural traditions of China, Japan, or South Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal). In completing the major, each student is required to gain a general understanding of one of these cultural areas, to acquire a working proficiency in one of the languages of South or East Asia, to develop a theoretical or methodological sophistication, and to demonstrate a degree of applied specialization. These principles are reflected in the requirements for an Asian studies major.

Requirements for the Major in Asian Studies

One majors in Asian studies by focusing on a particular geographic and cultural area (e.g., South Asia) or by specializing in the subfield of Disciplinary Asian Studies. Eight courses are required in addition to the study of an Asian language. These eight include a senior seminar (numbered 3000–3969 {300–399}) and other courses as described below. A student who wishes to graduate with honors in the program must also write an honors thesis, which is normally a one-year project. Students must earn a grade of C- or better in order to have a course count for the major. One course taken with the Credit/D/Fail grading option may count for the major as long as a CR (Credit) grade is earned and the course is not at the advanced level (numbered 3000–3999 {300–399}). No “double counting” of courses is allowed for the major. First-year seminars do count for the major.

The major requires courses from two categories:

1. Language. Two years of an East Asian language or one year of a South Asian language, or the equivalent through intensive language study. The College does not directly offer courses in any South Asian language. Arrangements may be made with the director of the program and the Office of the Registrar to transfer credits from another institution, or students may meet this requirement by studying Sinhala on the ISLE Program or Tamil on the SITA Program. Advanced language study is important for and integral to the major. In addition to the required two years of language study, students may apply up to three advanced intermediate (third-year) or advanced (fourth-year) East Asian language courses toward the total of eight required for the area-specific or disciplinary major.

2a. Area-specific option. Eight courses, seven of which focus on the student’s area of specialization and one of which is in an Asian cultural area outside that specialization. One of these eight courses is normally a senior seminar. The possible areas of specialization are China, Japan, East Asia, and South Asia. Students must take at least one pre-modern and one modern course in their area of specialization. Students specializing in China must take one pre-modern and one modern course; those specializing in Japan must take one pre-modern and one modern course; and those focusing on South Asia must take one intermediate course from two of the following three areas: anthropology, history, and religion, all of which must have South Asia as their primary focus.

2b. Disciplinary-based option. Eight courses, at least five of which must be in the chosen discipline (e.g., government, history, literature, religion, and other approved areas). Those choosing this option should consult with their advisor concerning course selection and availability. One of the eight courses must be an advanced course (numbered 3000–3969 {300–399}) in the discipline of focus, wherever possible. The three remaining courses, chosen in consultation with an advisor, must explore related themes or relate to the student’s language study. The language studied must be in the student’s primary cultural or national area of focus, or in cases where a discipline allows for comparison across areas, in one of the primary areas of focus.

Requirements for the Minor in Asian Studies

Students focus on the cultural traditions of either East Asia or South Asia by completing a concentration of at least five courses in one geographic area or four courses in one geographic area and one course outside that specialization. Of these five courses, two may be language courses, provided that these language courses are at the level of third-year instruction or above. Two courses completed in off-campus programs may be counted toward the minor. Students focusing on South Asia must take one intermediate course (numbered 2500–2749) from each of the following three areas: anthropology, history, and religion, all of which must have South Asia as their primary focus. Students must earn a grade of C- or better in order to have a course count for the minor. One course taken with the Credit/D/Fail grading option may count for the minor as long as a CR (Credit) grade is earned and the course is not at the advanced level (numbered 3000–3999 {300–399}). No “double counting” of courses is allowed for the minor. First-year seminars do count for the minor.

Requirements for the Minor in Chinese or Japanese

The minor consists of five courses. Of these five courses, four must be in the chosen language. Students who have background in the language must take four courses in the language beginning with the course in which they are initially placed. The fifth course may be either an advanced language class, or a literature, film, or culture course in the area of language study, including a first-year seminar. The roster of qualified classes may change, so students should consult with their advisors. Courses that count for the minor may not be counted for another major or minor. Up to two credits from off-campus study may count toward the minor.

Off-Campus Study

Foreign study for students interested in Asian studies is highly recommended. Established programs in the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are available for students interested in China. Students are particularly encouraged to attend the ACC, CET, and IUP programs. The AKP and JCMU programs are recommended for students interested in Japan, but students may select another program based upon their academic interests. The ISLE and SITA programs are recommended for students interested in South Asia. Consult the Asian studies office or website for information about these and other programs. Up to three credits from off-campus study (excluding beginning and intermediate—first- and second-year—language courses) may count toward the major. Up to two credits from off-campus study (excluding language courses) may count for the minor.

Program Honors

Students contemplating honors candidacy in the program must have established records of A or B+ average in program course offerings and present clearly articulated, well-focused proposals for scholarly research. Students must prepare an honors thesis and successfully defend their thesis in an oral examination.


Online Catalogue content is current as of August 1, 2014. For most current course information, use the online course finder. Also see Addenda.