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Asian Studies

Department Requirements

Requirements for the Major in Asian Studies

asian characters written on a sketch of a man walking under the moon 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) 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). 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 Student Records 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 premodern 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-level course (numbered 2500-2749) from two of the following three areas: anthropology, religion, and history, 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 (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 a 300-level course 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 200-level course from each of the following three areas: anthropology, religion, and history, all of which must have South Asia as their primary focus; whenever possible, two of those courses should be Asian Studies 232, 240, or 256. 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 300 level. No "double counting" of courses is allowed for the minor. First-year seminars do count for the minor.

Requirements for the Chinese Language Minor in Asian Studies

The minor in Chinese Language consists of five courses, four of which must be in Chinese language. Students who have a background in the language must take four classes in Chinese from the point where they are placed in the placement exam. The fifth course may be an advanced Chinese language class, or it may be a class that situates the study of language within a discipline (e.g., literature, film, history, art history, religion, government, and other approved areas), including a first-year seminar. The roster of qualified classes may change, so students should consult with their advisers.
Up to two full Bowdoin credits from an approved off-campus study program may count for the minor.
No "double counting" of courses is allowed 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 300 level.

Requirements for the Japanese Language Minor in Asian Studies

The minor in Japanese Language consists of five courses, four of which must be in Japanese language. Students who have a background in the language must take four classes in Japanese from the point where they are placed in the placement exam. The fifth course may be an advanced Japanese language class, or it may be a class that situates the study of language within a discipline (e.g., literature, film, history, art history, religion, government, and other approved areas), including a first-year seminar. The roster of qualified classes may change, so students should consult with their advisers.
Up to two full Bowdoin credits from an approved off-campus study program may count for the minor.
No "double counting" of courses is allowed 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 300 level.

Program Honors

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

The Honors Program in Asian Studies

An Honors Paper in Asian Studies provides students with an opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary research and analysis. The process of completing a major research project that culminates in an analytical essay involves many steps, although the order in which a student accomplishes these tasks will depend on their subject, sources and methodologies. Students will design a focused research project, articulating a problem or question about a particular subject. They will locate their study in the literature of the field, broadly defined, in order to show that their problem is worth exploring in relation to the secondary literature and that their paper will advance the understanding of the subject. In order to work toward a thesis, they will propose a preliminary hypothesis (a potential answer to their problem). They will also design or select a research method that enables them to explore the subject in depth through the extensive analysis of available sources, both primary and secondary. Students will present their thesis and analysis in an articulate, persuasive essay. Most projects will span two semesters, although students who have begun exploring their topic in a previous class or paper may do a semester-long project.

Schedule

By the end of September, the student should, after consulting with his or her advisor, submit a prospectus to the program. This document should include an abstract or description of the subject and, to the extent possible a) a working hypothesis; b) a description of the method for collecting and analyzing the sources; c) a preliminary bibliography of primary and secondary sources, and d) an outline of the paper. The student will briefly present these findings to the Asian Studies faculty and, on this basis, a working committee will be assembled.

By the first week of December, the student will have completed a chapter of the project.

By the end of the third week of February, another major section will be provided.

By the end of the first week of April, the student will hand in to the committee a completed draft of the project, which will be revised during that month.

On the last Friday of classes, the student will hand in three copies of the final honors essay. This deadline is not negotiable.

During reading period, the Asian Studies faculty, or a relevant portion thereof, will read the final project, prepare questions, and then engage in a discussion with the student. After the discussion, the committee will submit their evaluation and a grade.

Evaluation

A successful honors essay will include:

  • a clearly articulated thesis that advances the understanding of the subject in the context of the secondary literature;
  • a careful mining of and grappling with primary sources or a critical reading of secondary sources, the latter being particularly relevant for topics in fields where primary sources are especially elusive;
  • a clear theoretical framework that the student has used to analyze and organize the evidence;
  • a cogent, coherent, and eloquent essay;
  • scholarly standards of presentation that include a table of contents, proper citations, bibliography, and no typographical or grammatical errors.

Complete details can be found at The College Catalogue