East Asian Studies

Professor Ryuichi Abe, Director of Undergraduate Studies

 

The concentration in East Asian Studies seeks to develop a critical understanding of the human experience in East Asia. To study East Asia is to be exposed to a world with different forms of political activity and social relations, religious traditions of great depth and philosophical schools with enduring insights, and literatures of unusual range and power. It is also to study a world that since the 19th century has come to share in the dilemmas of modernity that we all confront. For some this inquiry provides a challenging and satisfying addition to a liberal arts education. For some it is an opportunity to restore connections to an ancestral past. For others it leads to graduate studies. And for many others it is the beginning of a professional career with an East Asian component. The program provides preparation for a variety of fields of work and advanced study after graduation. Study abroad is encouraged.

A concentrator develops skills in a language, participates in the tutorial program, and selects from a rich offering of lecture courses and seminars. The program allows students to learn about East Asia as a whole and also to pursue specialized study of one or more East Asian societies: China, Japan, Korea, or Vietnam. While there are some commonalities among the many cultures and peoples of East Asia, there are also innumerable differences that mark each of these cultures and peoples as distinct in their own right. Thus a primary goal of the Concentration in East Asian Studies is to expose students to both the unity and the multiplicity of this vast and complex region.

The concentration offers a broad range of possibilities for students interested in the social sciences or the humanities. EAS facilitates course work in social sciences, incorporating approaches to modern East Asia drawn from political science, sociology, anthropology, economics, and psychology. Students with an interest in the humanities can choose to study modern and pre-modern East Asia from the perspectives of history, literature, art history, cultural studies, religion, philosophy, and folklore. EAS faculty are drawn from the departments of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Anthropology, Economics, Government, History, History of Art and Architecture, Sociology; the schools of Business and Law; and the Kennedy School of Government. The sophomore tutorial introduces a variety of perspectives from the humanities and the social sciences, and offers concentrators a forum to interact with Harvard’s East Asia faculty. At the end of the sophomore year, students typically decide on a disciplinary or area focus or choose a comparative perspective (involving one or more than one area or discipline) in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies and their assigned faculty advisor. Juniors take an EAS 98 offering or an approved course to serve as their junior tutorial, and may choose to spend the summer in East Asia doing research or internships. Honors candidates usually spend the senior year researching and writing the honors thesis.

The East Asian Studies concentration welcomes joint concentrators. Primary concentrators in another field who are interested in language study take six courses of language, the sophomore tutorial, and two area courses. Those interested in area studies take the sophomore tutorial and five additional courses on East Asia. Please consult the East Asian Studies tutorial office for detailed requirements.

REQUIREMENTS
Basic Requirements: 12 courses (48 credits)

  1. Required courses:
    1. Language: At least four, and no more than six, courses in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Tibetan, or Vietnamese; or an approved combination of courses involving two East Asian languages. The language requirement is met by attaining a level of competence equivalent to four courses of language study; thus it is possible for the requirement to be satisfied in part by work done or experience gained elsewhere than in formal course work at Harvard. However, students who are allowed to take fewer than four courses of language due to previous training or knowledge are required to substitute other courses. No more than six courses of language may be counted for concentration credit.
    2. Tutorials: Two courses of tutorial or courses designated as equivalents. See 2a and 2b for more information.
    3. Area Courses: Four to six non-language courses in East Asian or related subjects, selected from the list available in the undergraduate office. One of these courses must be one of the following survey courses: Societies of the World 12: China: Traditions and Transformations, Societies of the World 13: Japan in Asia and the World, Societies of the World 27: The Two Koreas, or Korean 111. It is recommended that at least two area courses be upper-level seminars. The number of courses required depends on the number of East Asian language courses that a student chooses. Together these must total ten, so a student who chooses to count six courses of language requires four additional area courses, and a student who chooses to count four language courses requires six area courses.
  2. Tutorials:
    1. East Asian Studies 97ab: Sophomore Tutorial (may be taken in sophomore or junior year).
    2. East Asian Studies 98: Junior Tutorial. With permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, an approved replacement course may be substituted for EAS 98.
  3. Thesis: None.
  4. General Examination: None.
  5. Other information: Courses counted for concentration credit may not be taken Pass/Fail, except by special petition. EAS 97ab may not be taken Pass/Fail. General Education classes on East Asia can be counted for concentration credit. Content courses taught in an East Asian language can count toward the language or area course requirement. A content course taught in an East Asian language may also count as a junior tutorial replacement course with the written permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies. One Humanities Frameworks course may count towards EAS area credit.

Requirements for Honors Eligibility: 13 courses (52 credits)

  1. Required courses:
    1. Language: Four courses in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Tibetan, or Vietnamese, or an approved combination of courses involving two East Asian languages (see Basic Requirements, item 1a).
    2. Tutorials: Four courses of tutorial or courses designated as equivalents. See 2 for more information.
    3. Area Courses: Three to five courses selected from among East Asian or related subjects (see item 1c of Basic Requirements), including language courses beyond Basic Requirements. The number of courses required depends on the number of East Asian language courses that a student chooses. Together, these must total nine, so a student who chooses to count six courses of language requires three additional area courses, and a student who chooses to count four language courses requires five area courses.
  2. Tutorials: Same as Basic Requirements. Plus: Senior year: East Asian Studies 99 (two terms), preparation of thesis, required. Letter-graded. The senior tutorial consists of weekly meetings with the graduate student adviser and regular (usually bi-weekly) meetings with the faculty adviser. There are also periodic meetings with other seniors writing theses. EAS 99 counts towards course requirements.
  3. Thesis: Required of all honors candidates.
  4. General Examination: None.
  5. Other information: Courses counted for concentration credit may not be taken Pass/Fail, except by special petition. EAS 97ab may not be taken Pass/Fail. General Education classes on East Asia can be counted for concentration credit. Content courses taught in an East Asian language can count toward the language or area course requirement. A content course taught in an East Asian language may also count as a junior tutorial replacement course with the written permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies. One Humanities Frameworks course may count towards EAS area credit.

Joint Concentration in East Asian History

Students whose interest in East Asian civilization is primarily historical should consider concentrating in East Asian History. East Asian History is a joint concentration co-sponsored by the History Department and the East Asian Studies concentration. It aims to take advantage of the strengths of both concentrations. The goal of the program is to introduce students to the craft of historical study—the ways historians make sense of the past, and the skills of historical analysis, writing, and research—as well as to promote a critical understanding of the historical experience of East Asian societies. In addition to in-depth language study and substantial course work in the history of East Asia, students enrolling in this concentration will do one half of their tutorial work in the History Department and the other half in the East Asian Studies concentration. The sophomore tutorial in History introduces students to the analysis of historical writing in various genres, while the EAS sophomore tutorial introduces the history, literature and intellectual traditions of China, Japan, and Korea. By taking a History department research seminar or an EALC research seminar, students are introduced to methods of historical research and writing and have the opportunity to conduct in-depth research projects. In the senior year, joint concentrators will work with an appropriate faculty adviser and graduate student tutor to write a thesis, an original work in some aspect of East Asian history.

ADVISING

All concentrators meet individually with the Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies during the first week of each term. At other times, students are welcome to drop in during office hours as often as is desired or necessary. At the end of the sophomore year, students consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies regarding their choice of disciplinary and area focus. Students are also encouraged to make appointments to meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies, and faculty adviser or to come to their office hours.

For up-to-date information on advising in East Asian Studies, please see the Advising Programs Office website.

RESOURCES

Students of East Asia at Harvard, in whatever program, benefit from a number of unusual resources. Among these are the magnificent collections of the Harvard-Yenching Library—the Chinese collection is perhaps the most comprehensive in the world, while those on Japan and Korea also are imposing. The Harvard-Yenching Institute, in addition to its support of the library, operates programs that bring younger East Asian scholars and graduate students to Harvard. The Fairbank Center for East Asian Research and the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies also have a number of scholars on East Asia in residence annually, and sponsor workshops and other enriching activities. Harvard, moreover, sponsors certain study programs abroad, and the existence of these and other opportunities has led to an increasing number of students spending one of their undergraduate years in East Asia.

HOW TO FIND OUT MORE

Freshmen or sophomores interested in concentrating on East Asia should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Ryuichi Abe, or the Coordinator for EAS, Nicole Escolas. They can also stop by the EAS office at 9 Kirkland Place during office hours, come to the office hours of the Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies, or make appointments with them. A copy of our brochure, East Asian Studies at Harvard University, A Guide for Undergraduates is available on the EAS website. More information can be obtained by emailing eas@fas.harvard.edu or calling 617-495-8365.

ENROLLMENT STATISTICS
Number of Concentrators as of December

Concentrators 2008 2009 2010  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
East Asian Studies 40 32 31 41 46 39 28 22 22
East Asian Studies + another field 1 0 2  2 3 3 7 5 3
Another field + East Asian Studies 13 5 6  11 12 14 15 10 9