Asian Studies Program

215 Mather Memorial
Phone: 216.368.5362
Lihong Shi, Program Advisor

Asian studies have become an increasingly important area of study in North American colleges and universities. This is due in part to a growing acknowledgment that Asian cultures are of significance both regionally and globally. The Asian Studies Program offers students the opportunity to explore these cultures from a multidisciplinary perspective so that they are able to understand the social, cultural, political, and other forces that shape and have shaped Asian nations.

The Asian Studies Program draws on faculty and courses from such departments as anthropology, art history and art, economics, modern languages and literatures, history, philosophy, political science, and religious studies. A current list of approved courses is available from the program advisor. Departmental seminars and senior capstone courses in the Asian Studies Program may count toward the completion of the SAGES General Education Requirements.

The undergraduate program in Asian Studies offers a major and a minor. Students are encouraged to take courses in different disciplines in order to obtain broad exposure to the languages, literature, art, culture, religious traditions, and political, economic, and social institutions of Asian countries. The Asian Studies Program also offers an honors program to qualified majors.

In addition to course offerings, the Asian Studies Program sponsors extracurricular activities that enhance the formal study of Asia and give students additional opportunities to explore and understand Asia’s importance in the global community. The program sponsors lectures and films and administers a website devoted to Asia. It also encourages students to participate in study abroad programs in Asian countries and to utilize Asian resources at the Cleveland Museum of Art and other local institutions.

Department Faculty

Lihong Shi, PhD
(Tulane University)
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology; Director, Asian Studies Program

Ananya Dasgupta, PhD
(University of Pennsylvania)
Assistant Professor, Department of History

William E. Deal, PhD
(Harvard University)
Severance Professor in the History of Religion, Department of Religious Studies; Department of Cognitive Science

Melvyn C. Goldstein, PhD
(University of Washington)
John Reynolds Harkness Professor, Department of Anthropology; Co-Director, Center for Research on Tibet

Kelly M. McMann, PhD
(University of Michigan)
Professor, Department of Political Science

Eunyoung Park, PhD
(University of Kansas)
Assistant Professor, Department of Art History and Art

Jonathan Tan, PhD
(The Catholic University of America)
Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan Professor in Catholic Studies; Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies

Peter Yang, PhD
(University of Utah)
Associate Professor, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

Undergraduate Program


The Asian Studies major, which leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree, consists of 31 credit hours, including:

  • At least 16 credit hours (two years) of Chinese or Japanese language
  • 15 credit hours of Asia-related courses, selected in consultation with the program advisor 

The 15 hours in Asia-related courses must be at the 200 or 300 level and come from at least three different departments.


The minor in Asian Studies consists of 18 credit hours of Asia-related courses, selected in consultation with the program advisor. Only one year (8 credits) of language study (Japanese or Chinese) counts toward the minor. 

The 18 hours in Asia-related courses must be at the 200 or 300 level and come from at least three different departments.

Honors Program

Asian Studies Honors is a semester-long program for Asian studies majors, normally taken during the senior year, which involves researching and writing an honors thesis. Honors program requirements include the completion of 12 semester hours of approved Asia-related courses, at least two semesters of study of an Asian language, and maintenance of a GPA of at least 3.0 overall and 3.2 in Asian studies courses.

A participating student enrolls in ASIA 398 Honors Thesis and writes a thesis under the direction of an Asian Studies faculty member. The student also receives guidance from a second reader, who must be a member of the Asian Studies Program. A third reader, who need not be a member of the Asian Studies Program, is optional. Each student must maintain regular contact with the supervising faculty member in the various stages of researching and writing the thesis. Detailed guidelines and deadlines for the course are available from the program advisor.

Courses Available in Asian Studies

Language Courses:
CHIN 101Elementary Chinese I4
CHIN 102Elementary Chinese II4
CHIN 201Intermediate Chinese I4
CHIN 202Intermediate Chinese II4
CHIN 203Intermediate Chinese III4
CHIN 240Modern Chinese Literature in Translation3
CHIN 250Classical Chinese Literature in Translation3
CHIN 301Advanced Chinese I4
CHIN 302Advanced Chinese II4
CHIN 315Business Chinese3
CHIN 320Chinese Popular Culture3
CHIN 330Chinese Cinema3
CHIN 380Contemporary Chinese Texts I3
CHIN 399Independent Study1 - 3
CHIN 415Business Chinese3
JAPN 101Elementary Japanese I4
JAPN 102Elementary Japanese II4
JAPN 201Intermediate Japanese I4
JAPN 202Intermediate Japanese II4
JAPN 225Japanese Popular Culture3
JAPN 245Classical Japanese Literature in Translation3
JAPN 255Modern Japanese Literature in Translation3
JAPN 301Advanced Japanese I4
JAPN 302Advanced Japanese II4
JAPN 345Japanese Women Writers3
JAPN 350Contemporary Japanese Texts I *3
JAPN 351Contemporary Japanese Texts II *3
JAPN 355Modern Japanese Novels and the West3
JAPN 397Senior Thesis I3
JAPN 398Senior Thesis II3
JAPN 399Independent Study1 - 3
JAPN 450Japanese in Cultural Context I3
JAPN 451Japanese in Cultural Context II3
ANTH 312Ethnography of Southeast Asia3
ANTH 331The Most Ancient Near East3
ANTH 333Roots of Ancient India: Archaeology of South Asia3
ANTH 353Chinese Culture and Society3
ANTH 354Health and Healing in East Asia3
ASIA 240Modern Chinese Literature in Translation3
ASIA 250Classical Chinese Literature in Translation3
ASIA 288Imperial China: The Great Qing3
ASIA 289Reform, Revolution, Republics: China 1895 to Present3
ASIA 320Chinese Popular Culture3
ASIA 330Chinese Cinema3
ASIA 398Honors Thesis1 - 4
ASIA 399Independent Study1 - 3
Art History:
ARTH 203The Arts of Asia3
ARTH 208Arts of Japan3
ARTH 302Buddhist Art in Asia *3
ARTH 307Arts of China *3
ARTH 341Issues in the Art of Japan3
ARTH 342Issues in Indian and Southeast Asian Art3
ARTH 398Independent Study in Art History1 - 3
HSTY 137Introduction to Modern South Asia3
HSTY 157Women's Histories in South Asia3
HSTY 288Imperial China: The Great Qing3
HSTY 289Reform, Revolution, Republics: China 1895 to Present3
HSTY 324Issues in Indian and Southeast Asian Art3
Political Science:
POSC 353Political Thought and Political Change in China3
POSC 370DThe Politics of China *3
Religious Studies
RLGN 108The History of Yoga: The Yoga of Transformation and the Transformation of Yoga3
RLGN 152Introducing Buddhism3
RLGN 153Introducing Chinese Religions3
RLGN 154Introducing Hinduism3
RLGN 155Introducing Jainism3
RLGN 221Indian Philosophy3
RLGN 229Asian Christianity: Historical Perspectives3
RLGN 237Religion and Dance in South Asia3
RLGN 353Hindu and Jain Bioethics: Special Focus on Women's and Gender Studies3
WLIT 245Classical Japanese Literature in Translation3
WLIT 255Modern Japanese Literature in Translation3
WLIT 345Japanese Women Writers3


ASIA 132. Introduction to Modern East Asia. 3 Units.

HSTY 132 is an introduction to the histories of modern China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam from the "dawn of the global world" in the 17th century to present. Taken together these regions make up the geographic and cultural unit commonly referred to as "East Asia." Over the course of the term, we will investigate the usefulness of this concept of "East Asia" by examining its origins as well as the sometimes convergent, sometimes divergent relations between this region and the rest of the world. We will also challenge the stereotype of a monolithic and static East Asia and see to develop a critical understanding of the internal and external forces integrating and dividing this region. We will examine how international diplomatic, commercial, military, religious, and cultural relationships shaped the individual countries as well as their relationships with each other and the world. The course sweeps over large regions of time and space. It aims to put the contemporary discussion of globalization into historical perspective by examining the long-lasting interactions of East Asian countries with each other and the rest of the world. These connections were economic, political, cultural, and psychological. Topics include: global silver and trade flows, warfare and military technology, imperial domination and revolutionary resistance, and the role of historical memory, as in Nanking or Hiroshima. Sources include historical documents, pictures, films, and memoirs. As we move through the course material our goal is not to gain total knowledge of modern East Asia, nor of China, Japan, Korea nor Vietnam. Rather, by the end of the term you should be able to identify some of the main organizing themes in modern East Asian history and develop a greater understanding of the construction and nature of historical knowledge itself. Offered as HSTY 132 and ASIA 132. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.

ASIA 235. Asian Cinema and Drama. 3 Units.

Introduction to major Asian film directors and major traditional theatrical schools of India, Java/Bali, China, and Japan. Focus on the influence of traditional dramatic forms on contemporary film directors. Development of skills in cross-cultural analysis and comparative aesthetics. Offered as ASIA 235 and WLIT 235.

ASIA 240. Modern Chinese Literature in Translation. 3 Units.

This course examines Modern Chinese Literature from the beginning of the 20th century to contemporary period in the contexts of Chinese historical and cultural transformations. It examines representative works of the major literary genres, including fiction, poetry, drama, and prose writing. We will be making the following inquiries: What is modern Chinese literature? What does it tell us about the cultural, social, psychological, and historical changes that occurred in modern China? Who are the main literary and cultural figures, and what did they contribute to the construction of the Chinese nation? How did Western thoughts impact on the ways in which Chinese reflected on their own cultural identities and social and gender relationships? This course is taught in English. Offered as CHIN 240, ASIA 240 and WLIT 240. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.

ASIA 250. Classical Chinese Literature in Translation. 3 Units.

This course is a survey of the classical Chinese literature from the pre-Qin Period to the fall of Qing Dynasty in 1911. Students will be introduced to a variety of forms and genres, including classical poetry, lyric, aria, elegy, rhapsody, folk song, narrative verse, parallel prose, classical-language short story, vernacular short story, novel, drama, etc. This course is taught in English. Offered as CHIN 250, ASIA 250 and WLIT 250. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.

ASIA 288. Imperial China: The Great Qing. 3 Units.

This course is an introduction to the history of Imperial China, from the fall of the Ming Dynasty in 1644 to the creation of the Chinese republic in 1912. We will explore the major historical transformations (political, economic, social, and cultural) of the last imperial dynasty, the Qing (1644-1911), and develop an understanding of the major social, political, economic, and intellectual cultural forces shaping the formation of modern China. Contrary to commonly-held ideas in both West and in China that traditional Chinese society was timeless or stagnant, historians now see dramatic and significant changes during this period--to the economy, to gender relations, to religion, and to many other aspects of life. This course surveys the social, political, economic, and cultural history of this era, with emphasis on recent research. The main goals of the course will be to acquaint students with the key changes and to show the interplay between economic, social, and cultural changes on the one hand and political developments on the other. By the end of the semester you should have a good sense of how Chinese society was transformed over the course of the 17th through early 20th centuries. The topics we will discuss include urbanization and commerce; gender, family and kinship; education and the examination system; opium and free trade; and ethnicity and nationalism. Offered as ASIA 288 and HSTY 288. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.

ASIA 289. Reform, Revolution, Republics: China 1895 to Present. 3 Units.

Completes a two-term sequence of the Chinese history survey, although HSTY 288 is not a prerequisite for this course. Beginning with the First Sino-Japanese War (1895), we review the historical development of intellectual discourse, public reaction, and political protest in later Imperial China through the creation of the People's Republic in 1949 forward to contemporary times. In contrast to the conventional description of China from a Western point of view, this course tries to explain the emergence of modern China in the context of its intellectual, political, and socio-economic transformation as experienced by Chinese in the late 19th and into the 20th century. By discussing the influence of the West, domestic rebellions, and political radicalism, we examine how the Chinese state and society interacted in search for modernization and reforms, how these reforms were continued during the Republican period, and to what extent historical patterns can be identified in China's present-day development. Offered as ASIA 289 and HSTY 289. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.

ASIA 320. Chinese Popular Culture. 3 Units.

In this course we are going to study Chinese (including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Chinese Diaspora) popular culture since the 1980s. By examining different forms of popular culture, including popular literature, film, music, TV programs, posters, the Internet, etc., we will be looking into their political, ideological, sociological, cultural, and psychological mechanisms. The film viewing will take place outside the class. Offered as: CHIN 320, ASIA 320 and WLIT 320. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.

ASIA 330. Chinese Cinema. 3 Units.

This course is an exploration to the history of and critical issues in Chinese cinema: we will discuss early film making in Shanghai, leftist melodrama, Socialist films, the Chinese New Wave, underground films, the film making in the era of globalization, and etc. Themes and genres that will be investigated include melodrama, the "Fifth Generation", underground film making, filmic representations of women, minority films, and historical epics. Films from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and diasporic communities will be discussed to illuminate what it means to be "Chinese." All of the films in this course come with English subtitles; the film viewing will take place outside the class. Offered as CHIN 330 and ASIA 330. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.

ASIA 398. Honors Thesis. 1 - 4 Units.

Intensive study of a topic or problem under the direction of a faculty member, resulting in the preparation of an honors thesis.

ASIA 399. Independent Study. 1 - 3 Units.

Tutorial in Asian Studies.