East Asian Studies

Professors: Frost (Director), Sugimori, Weng, White, Zhang

East Asian Studies is an interdisciplinary major that introduces students to the region that includes China, Japan, and Korea. Home to some of the world’s most ancient and complex cultures, today East Asia remains a powerful locus of global trade, finance, and popular culture, as well as a region of significant geopolitical interest. East Asian Studies majors at Kalamazoo College combine required courses, study abroad experiences, and elective classes to develop extensive knowledge of a specific country (China, Japan, or Korea) and broader familiarity with the region as a whole. The major requires at least six units of either Chinese or Japanese (or demonstrated equivalency) and at least a long-term (six-unit) study abroad in China, Japan, or Korea. In addition to language courses in Chinese or Japanese, students take courses taught in English on the literatures, histories, cultures, and societies of China, Japan, and Korea. East Asian Studies faculty members work with students to craft plans of study that suit their interests and goals. The skills and cross-cultural expertise that East Asian Studies majors acquire are applicable in a wide variety of career fields, including, but not limited to, education, business, government, law, and communications.

Students interested in the major are strongly advised to begin language study as early as possible in order to maximize their experiences abroad. Students should also consult with East Asian Studies faculty early in their time at Kalamazoo College to craft appropriate plans of study. Whether planning to attend graduate school or to seek employment in an East Asia-related occupation, students are also encouraged to pursue coursework in another specific disciplinary area in order to enrich their qualifications.

Due to the overlap in requirements, it is not possible for students to major in East Asian Studies and minor in Chinese or Japanese unless they are pursuing coursework in both languages.

Requirements for the Major

Number of Units

8 units; not including SIP or language classes through CHIN 203 or JAPN 203. Students interested in completing SIPS in EAS, or in the Japanese or Chinese programs are encouraged to undertake them in the Fall Term in conjunction with the senior seminar and should consult with potential advisors as early as possible.

Required Courses

Required courses develop language skills and expertise related to specific countries and familiarize students with the history and culture of the region as a whole. With approval of the director, courses with relevant East Asian content not currently listed here (e.g., one-time offerings by visiting faculty) can be applied to the relevant categories.

  1. Language courses (Note: these courses do not count toward the 8-unit total)
    CHIN 201, 202, 203 (or demonstrated equivalent competence at CHIN 203 or higher)
    JAPN 201, 202, 203 (or demonstrated equivalent competence at JAPN 203 or higher)
  2. HIST 103 Introduction to East Asian Civilizations (1 unit)
  3. One history course taken on campus (1 unit)
    From among HIST 280, HIST 282, HIST 283, HIST 285
  4. One literature course taken on campus (1 unit)
    From among CHIN 225, CHIN 235, JAPN 236, JAPN 238, JAPN 239 or JAPN 255
  5. One culture and society course taken on campus (1 unit)
    From among CHIN 222, CHIN 245, CHIN 250, CHIN 260, JAPN 240, JAPN 245, JAPN 250, SEMN 201
  6. Senior Seminar (1 unit)
    EAST 490 East Asian Studies Senior Seminar

Electives (3 units)

Elective courses offer students the opportunity to explore East Asia through a variety of disciplinary approaches. Majors will take three courses from at least two categories listed below. Students who wish to count on-campus courses related to East Asia that are not on the list below should consult the director. With approval of the director, students may count as an elective one non-language course from a long-term (six-unit) study abroad program or two non-language courses from an extended term (nine-unit) program.

  • Advanced Language: CHIN 300, CHIN 301, JAPN 301, JAPN 302, JAPN 401
  • Literature: CHIN 225, CHIN 235, JAPN 236, JAPN 238, JAPN 239, JAPN 255
  • Culture and Society: CHIN 222, CHIN 245, CHIN 250 CHIN 260, JAPN 240, JAPN 245, JAPN 250, SEMN 201
  • History: HIST 280, HIST 282, HIST 283, HIST 285, HIST 288, HIST 289, HIST 397
  • Arts: THEA 290
  • Social Sciences: ANSO 220, ANSO 288

Study Abroad:

Students must complete at least a long-term (six-unit) study abroad in China, Japan, or Korea.

Chinese Courses

CHIN 101 Beginning Chinese I This course is an introduction to the Chinese language. Pronunciation system, basic vocabulary, written script, fundamental grammatical structures, as well as some cultural background of the language will be studied. The goal of this course is to set a good foundation for making Chinese a functional language for the students. Students are asked to follow three principles: (1) make Chinese a part of daily life, (2) use Chinese actively in class and outside of class, and (3) be creative in finding ideas for using the Chinese language.
CHIN 102 Beginning Chinese II This course follows Beginning Chinese I. All four skills -- listening, speaking, reading, and writing -- are equally emphasized. By the end of this course, students are expected to understand simple questions and answers, to be able to ask and respond to simple questions, to understand simple statements, and to be able to participate in simple conversations on a few familiar topics. Students will also be expected to read and write simple notes, meaningful sentences, and short passages constructed with basic grammatical patterns. CHIN-101. CHIN-102L must be taken concurrently.
CHIN 103 Beginning Chinese III A continuation of Beginning Chinese II, this course further consolidates the essential skills in reading, writing, listening to, and speaking Chinese. The goals are to increase vocabulary, to form a clear understanding of the language through knowledge of the meaning of words and structures, and to advance the ability of students to express themselves in the language accurately and properly on some selected topics. CHIN-102; CHIN-103L must be taken concurrently
CHIN 201 Intermediate Chinese I This course follows CHIN 103 and starts the Intermediate Chinese language sequence. It will create an authentic language environment for the students and help make learning Chinese an interesting experience. The students will develop their fundamental language skills with a balanced emphasis on listening, speaking, reading, and writing. A communicative approach will be adopted, and accuracy will be emphasized at the same time. Culture will be brought into the classroom through songs, poems, and so on. Short cultural talks related to course material will be given. CHIN-103; CHIN-201L must be taken concurrently
CHIN 202 Intermediate Chinese II This course follows CHIN 201, Intermediate Chinese I, and emphasizes interactive skills. More authentic materials will be used, and more topics and situations concerning contemporary Chinese society will be introduced. Class activities include visiting local Chinese communities and interviewing native speakers of Chinese language. CHIN-201; CHIN-202L must be taken concurrently
CHIN 203 Intermediate Chinese III The course concludes the Intermediate Chinese sequence. Students should be prepared for exposure to various spoken and written styles of Chinese and for a steady expansion of their vocabulary. After completing three quarters of Intermediate Chinese, students will have gained a solid foundation in Chinese grammar and vocabulary and have developed good strategies for effective reading and listening comprehension. In addition, students will have acquired further confidence in their ability to speak Chinese. CHIN-202; CHIN-203L must be taken concurrently
CHIN 222 20th-Century Urban China This course interrogates literary and cinematic representations of Chinese cities in the twentieth century. By examining urban narrative in Chinese fiction, drama, poetry and film from the Republican and People's Republic periods, this class offers a new understanding of Chinese modernity as marked by its unique urban sensibilities and configurations.
CHIN 224 Chinese Sci-Fi This course uses Chinese Sci-fi fictions and films to explore how an understanding of the tumultuous past and a perception of the rapidly shifting present in the Chinese cultural context are rendered in an imagination of alternative contemporary realities and of the future of China and of this interconnected planet. This course starts with the beginning of the genre in Chinese language in late 19th century and then focuses on contemporary Sci-fi fictions and films. Sci-fi in China since the 19th century has been addressing some of the current themes in Chinese literature and cinema that include issues and aspects of modernity, the building of a nation-state, capitalism and alienation, social justice and utopia, spatio-temporality and technology, human society and eco-environments, etc. In recent years there has been a globe-wide increasing interest in Chinese Sci-fi. This course starts with the beginning of the genre in Chinese language in late 19th century and then focuses on contemporary Sci-fi fictions and films. All the course materials will be in English translation. No knowledge of Chinese language or culture is required.
CHIN 225 Traditional Chinese Literature in Translation This course examines the relationship between the individual and society in traditional Chinese literature. We will read a wide selection of important texts from China's long history, including the Classic of Poetry, early assassin narratives, medieval nature poetry and romantic tales, vernacular stories, urban drama, and novels from the late imperial period. Among the more important questions that we will investigate is the complex role that Chinese literature played in articulating the place of the individual vis-à-vis the community and state.
CHIN 235 Modern Chinese Literature in Translation This course will examine the literary world of modern China by closely analyzing representative stories and novels written during the 20th century. As will quickly become clear in the course, literature in modern China has had and continues to have a close relationship with politics as well as with a wide variety of discussions on cultural identity in post-traditional China. Among the main goals of the course will be to explore how literature comes to grips with a thoroughgoing crisis of an established culture that results in a series of consequences unprecedented in Chinese history. Above all, the course will seek to understand how and why literature has played the role that it has, and what implications for the meaning of literature can be determined from examining the relationship between writing and society in modern China.
CHIN 245 Chinese Film This course examines the cinematic traditions of China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong in light of such topics as: the foundational legends of Chinese cinema, the relationship between film and politics, representations of historical crisis (e.g., the February 28 Incident (1947), the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-76), and the British handover of Hong Kong (1997)), revolutionary aesthetics, and "spectacular" violence. The overarching question we will explore is: How do Chinese films create the spectacle of "China," narrate its history, and represent its diverse cultural landscapes both at home and abroad?
CHIN 250 China From the Borders This course helps students approach China, one of the world's most vibrant multiethnic societies, and encourages students to investigate questions of race and ethnicity in the context of intercultural exchange in China and Asia. Despite China's historical legacy as the "Middle Kingdom" that imagined itself as the center of world civilizations, Chinese culture is far from a homogenous and self-contained entity. Chinese culture has always been in active conversation with other cultures. In this course, students will probe the historically evolving relationships between the so-called Chinese political and culture "center" and its non-Han peripheries. Students will investigate the multilingual, multiethnic traditions of Chinese literature and delve into many previously marginalized literary voices and creative expressions generated by China's diverse non-Han groups. The course will expand students' understanding of the ethnic diversity of China in the global context by introducing them to a variety of Chinese national narratives and minority-produced literary, cinematic, and artistic creations. We will particularly probe how minority intellectuals endeavor to salvage fast-disappearing minority linguistic and cultural traditions against state-led modernization in China, as well as how ethnic minority poets make transnational tribal connections with Native American communities. We will further place Chinese ethnic cultures in a global context by analyzing transnationally produced cinematic sensations to form sophisticated understandings of how Chinese minority cultural symbols enter into global cultural and capital circulations. Students have an opportunity to conduct research with Chinese-language and minority-language literary, cinematic, and artistic materials (mostly produced by the formerly overlooked minority intellectuals of China) to develop their skills to engage with multicultural sources in globalizing China. (All course materials are accompanied by English translations.)
CHIN 260 Women in China As in many countries subject to imperialism, women's movements in China were an important part of China's modernization project. How, then, have Chinese feminist theories and women's movements been different from those in the West? What is it like to live as a woman in a rapidly changing China through the 20th and 21st centuries? This course takes three approaches to explore these questions. To examine the characteristics and changes of gender roles we look at the representations of women in literature and film. To understand women's experiences we read women writers' essays, memoirs and fictions. To think about how women work as historical agents who make historical changes, we look at women activists, feminist thinkers and women's movements.
CHIN 295 Reading of Chinese Poetry This course provides students with an opportunity to read, discuss, and enjoy Chinese poetry. All readings are in English translation. While the primary focus is on close reading of poetic texts, students will be analyzing poetry from scholarly perspectives, writing research papers of poetic studies, and composing their own poems. Students will also acquire knowledge on the history of Chinese poetry and poetics from the beginnings to the eighteen century. This course may be of the interest of East Asian Studies majors, students who want to learn about Chinese culture, and those who are interested in poetry in general.
CHIN 295 The Past in Contemporary China This course investigates the dynamic role that China's contested cultural past plays in reshaping Chinese views of the contemporary world. Modern China's "more than five-thousand-year history"-a phrase thrown around unreflectively in China today-belies the diversity of people, customs, group identities, and cultural values that has contributed to the foundation on which the modern Chinese nation-state was built. Yet that complex past is often used to negotiate ideas of what constitutes Chinese cultural identity today. By exploring modern and contemporary essays, prose fiction, poetry, film, and television dramas that directly engage questions of how China's past is relevant to the present, together we will examine various ways in which ethnic, cultural, religious, and gender identities are reconfigured through claims about Chinese cultural heritage. Course is taught in English - no knowledge of Chinese language necessary.
CHIN 295 The Fantastic Chinese Lit Why do people value stories they know to be untrue? What role does the extraordinary play in human society? How should we (or should we?) make sense of stories about ghosts, mythical beasts, divine heroines, dream travel, and vengeful rocks? In this course we will investigate the fascinating world of stories about "strange things" in Chinese literature (in English translation). Classical Chinese literature, as is often noted, lacks a category that perfectly matches our modern category of "fiction." Premodern Chinese authors instead were fascinated with the categories of the "strange," "extraordinary," and "fantastic," which gave rise to a complex range of literary genres and styles. Together we will explore several examples of the Chinese fascination with "strange things"-including mythological accounts, song lyrics, records of anomalies, tales of fox spirits, dream novels, modern Chinese science fiction, and more. Please note that this course is taught entirely in English, and all readings will be in English. This is not a Chinese language course.
CHIN 295 Power, Propaganda, & Poetry in Chin Emp This course explores the dynamic role that poetry has played in negotiating systems of power in imperial China, both as a form of political propaganda and a popular mode of subversion. We will reflect on the enormous impact that Chinese poetry has had on key social issues relating to sexuality and gender, race and ethnic identity, political geography, colonialism, the environment, global epidemics, revolution, and more. *All reading in English; no knowledge of Chinese required*
CHIN 300 Advanced Chinese This course is a continuation of the Intermediate Chinese language sequence. The objective is to make a transition from textbook Chinese to real-life communication situations. For this purpose, the course surveys materials including texts from literature, the social sciences and cultural history, and students will be exposed to a wide variety of written and spoken styles of Chinese. Some of the materials selected are original publications drawn from books, magazines and newspapers. The opportunity to work directly with lively, authentic materials will be valuable for studying Chinese language, literature, society and culture. This course focuses on content and style with extensive discussion and frequent written assignments in Chinese. It will consolidate what the students have learned in the past and help them develop better reading and writing skills. In addition, the improvement of speaking and listening abilities will also be emphasized. This course may be tailored to the needs of the participants and may be taken for credit up to three times. CHIN-203
CHIN 301 Advanced Chinese: Short Fiction This course is an advanced-level language course in standard Mandarin Chinese, focused on readings and discussions of original works of modern Chinese-language short fiction. We will learn to read, discuss, and engage these works in the target language, as we explore themes of social inequality, love, violence, and untranslatability across various media, including films and cartoons, chosen to reflect an immense linguistic and cultural diversity. Completion of Intermediate Chinese III or demonstration of the equivalent language ability is required. CHIN-203 or CHIN-300 or instructor permission
CHIN 593 Senior Integrated Project Each program or department sets its own requirements for Senior Integrated Projects done in that department, including the range of acceptable projects, the required background of students doing projects, the format of the SIP, and the expected scope and depth of projects. See the Kalamazoo Curriculum -> Senior Integrated Project section of the Academic Catalog for more details. Permission of department and SIP supervisor required.

Japanese Courses

JAPN 101 Beginning Japanese I Introductory course; basic grammar and vocabulary; emphasis on listening and oral foundations; hiragana and katakana and an introduction to kanji. Students are encouraged to begin this course sequence in their first year in order to complete the three-quarter sequence (JAPN 101, 102, 103) required for study abroad, as well as the second year sequence (JAPN 201, 202, 203) before study abroad.
JAPN 102 Beginning Japanese II Further introduction to basic grammar and vocabulary; development of fundamental reading and writing skills using hiragana, katakana, and approximately 50 kanji. JAPN-101; Must take JAPN-102L concurrently
JAPN 103 Beginning Japanese III Reinforcement of basic listening and development of oral and aural competency; further achievement of reading and writing skills using the kana and approximately 100 kanji. JAPN-102 or equivalent placement; JAPN-103L must be taken concurrently
JAPN 201 Intermediate Japanese I Further work in conversation, oral interpretation, and elementary composition using approximately 200 kanji; study of idioms fundamental to an active use of spoken and written Japanese. JAPN-103 or equivalent placement; JAPN-201L must be taken concurrently
JAPN 202 Intermediate Japanese II Further refinement in areas studied in JAPN 201. JAPN 201; JAPN-202L must be taken concurrently
JAPN 203 Intermediate Japanese III Further refinement in areas studied in JAPN 202. JAPN-202 or equivalent placement; JAPN-203L must be taken concurrently
JAPN 236 Pre-Modern Japanese Literature The ghoulish, the monstrous, and the supernatural are staples of familiar Japanese culture like anime, manga, and J-horror but these themes have roots in Japan as old as the written word. This course explores pre-20th century Japanese literature, drama (including noh and kabuki theater), folklore, and visual culture to examine the vengeful ghosts, witches, wizards, fantastic beasts, and ambulatory tea kettles of the premodern Japanese imagination. No knowledge of Japanese language is required.
JAPN 238 Post-War Japanese Literature in Translation This course surveys important Japanese writers of the post-World War II era, with special attention to the profound transformations that followed the dissolution of the Japanese Empire in 1945. In the immediate postwar period the physical map of "Japan" shrank dramatically, and a national imagination that had for decades ranged across the plains of Manchuria and far into South Asia collapsed in on itself. This course investigates the ways in which prominent writers (and a few filmmakers) confronted this collapse and everything it implied, from a tentative renegotiation of Japan's place in the world (largely via its relationship with the United States), to a rapidly urbanizing society's relationship to its own hinterlands. Authors covered include Dazai Osamu, Abe Kobo, Murakami Ryu, Tawada Yoko, and Furukawa Hideo. All readings, lectures, and discussions in English.
JAPN 239 Modern Japanese Literature in Translation This course will examine a number of Japanese authors, from the late 19th century through the early 20th century, who have addressed the cultural and psychic disease that resulted from Japan's encounter with the West and transformation of Japan into a modern, nationalistic state. Authors read will include: Natsume Soseki, Mori Ogai, Higuchi Ichiyo, and Tanzaki Jun'ichiro.
JAPN 240 Japanese Culture through Film From animation to the avant-garde, this course treads the border lines of Japanese film. Students will interrogate both the concept of "national cinema" and the familiar conventions of narrative film through analysis of films that cross international borders as often as they defy formal conventions. The course calls attention to the work of underrepresented demographics within Japanese film, including women (Kawase Naomi) and ethnic Koreans living in Japan (Yang Yong-hi). Animated films include Miyazaki Hayao's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Momotaro and the Divine Sea Warriors, the first full length Japanese animation feature. Documentaries examine topics ranging from war crimes to Japanese professional wrestling. No knowledge of Japanese language is required.
JAPN 245 Japanese Language in Society This course explores several major aspects of language use associated with Japanese culture and society. The course aims not only at familiarizing students with various aspects of Japanese language with reference to culture and society, but also their developing an appreciation for a different culture. When discussing the inherent inter-relationship between language and culture, including the beliefs, values, and social organization, we will focus on the ideas of power, hierarchy, gender, and history. No previous knowledge of Japanese or linguistics is assumed or required. Readings, lectures, and discussion are all in English.
JAPN 250 Manga/Anime and Gender in Modern Japan Why are manga/anime so popular? Let's find out. This course undertakes a critical analysis of manga (comics) and anime (animation). We will examine these media's historical origins, narrative features, the world's reception and much more. The samurai warrior, the bishônen (beautiful boy), and the sexy cyborg-gender in Japanese culture has vivid representations. This course explores constructions of masculinity and femininity, paying attention to the figures of the girl as the postwar descendant of the bishônen, the ostensibly undersocialized otaku and yaoi culture and transgender manga where imagination opens the door to alternate and critical realities.
JAPN 255 Japanese Science Fiction This course will look at the relationship between popular culture, media, and Japanese society through the lens of science fiction literature and film. Looking across the 20th century and into the 21st, we will use sci-fi to ask: how does popular culture reflect its moment, and how does it critique it? What role does genre play in our understanding of a text? How do genres travel internationally? In doing so, we'll develop skills for analyzing pop culture, as well as communicating that understanding in a variety of registers. No Japanese language ability is required.
JAPN 260 Work at Play: Labor in Japanese Pop Culture How do we imagine work? How has work and labor been invested with meaning in society? What fantasies do we hold about our jobs, and what fears? Does work mean something different now than it did in the past, and if so, how has that shift been reflected in or influenced by popular culture? This course proposes to think carefully and critically about these questions by drawing on popular cultural production in Japan, a country long imagined as having a particularly strong emphasis on work culture and labor.
JAPN 301 High Intermediate Japanese Language This course is the first level of the third-year Japanese language sequence, offering more advanced training in the four skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. JAPN-203 or equivalent placement
JAPN 302 High Intermediate Japanese Language II This course is the second of the third-year Japanese language sequence, offering more advanced training in the four skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. JAPN-301 or equivalent placement
JAPN 395 Advanced Int Japanese Conversation This course is designed for students who have successfully completed Japanese 203 or have an equivalent or higher proficiency level in Japanese. The primary goal is to assist students to further develop oral and aural Japanese communication skills, by practicing the types of conversation that occur in daily situations, as well as being aware of pragmatics and cultural aspect accompanying those situations. Students will also increase their knowledge of Japan and its society, its customs, the ways of thinking of Japanese, taking into consideration individual speaker's various backgrounds while practicing the conversations. Must have taken JAPN-203 or have an equivalent or higher proficiency in Japanese.
JAPN 593 Senior Integrated Project Each program or department sets its own requirements for Senior Integrated Projects done in that department, including the range of acceptable projects, the required background of students doing projects, the format of the SIP, and the expected scope and depth of projects. See the Kalamazoo Curriculum -> Senior Integrated Project section of the Academic Catalog for more details. Permission of department and SIP supervisor required.