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Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies

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  • Objectives
    The Asian studies program aims to create a better understanding of Asian cultures and their place in the world through an integrated course of interdisciplinary study. The structure of requirements and electives (see below) is designed to ensure a comprehensive education, while still allowing participating students latitude to develop their own interests. Additional guidance will be provided by an adviser chosen from among the faculty who regularly offer Asia-related courses.
  • Course description
    Language Requirement: Asian studies majors must complete two years of an Asian language at Whitman (currently Chinese or Japanese), or the equivalent. Language classes above 206 can be used to meet elective credit requirements. Students opting to take at least a full year (eight credits) of a second Asian language may also apply those credits to the major. Courses numbered 206 and below (or equivalent) of the first Asian language will not count toward the major grade-point average in Asian studies.

    Major Requirement: All Asian studies majors must take Introduction to Asian Studies, Senior Seminar, and Thesis. In the final year students majoring in Asian studies must pass a senior assessment consisting in an oral defense of their thesis. Courses completed in Asian studies apply to the appropriate fine arts, humanities, social science and alternative voices (selected courses) distribution areas.

    In addition, Asian studies majors must complete at least 28 credits, of which 16 must be above the 100 level, from the following list. Selections must meet the following area and subject Distribution Requirements:

    Subject Clusters (two classes, six to eight credits, in at least two of the following):

       1. Language (if second language or at 300-level or above)
       2. Art and Literature
       3. History and Religion
       4. Social Science

    Area Clusters
    (two classes, six to eight credits, in at least two of the following areas and one class, three to four credits, in a third area):

       1. Japan
       2. China
       3. South/Southeast Asia
       4. Central/Northeast Asia

    Note: A single course may be used to cover both an area and a subject requirement, but may not be used to cover more than one area and one subject. For example, History 109 may fulfill the history subject requirement and the Japanese or the Chinese area requirement, but not both of the latter.

        * Anthropology 219 Chinese Religion
        * Anthropology 233 Archaeology of East Asia
        * Anthropology 257 Chinese Society and Culture
        * Anthropology 258 Peoples of the Tibeto-Burman Highlands
        * Art History 243 Buddhist Art in Asia
        * Art History 245 Art of East Asia
        * Art History 246 Art of South and Southeast Asia
        * Art History 247 Monuments in Asia
        * Art History 248 Ways of Seeing: Japanese Art and Aesthetics
        * Studio Art 301, 302 Special Projects in Asian Art
        * Asian Studies 200 Summer Seminar in Chinese Studies
        * Chinese 210 Conversational Chinese II (summer)
        * Chinese 250 Chinese Poetry
        * Chinese 305, 306 Third-Year Chinese
        * Chinese 310 Conversational Chinese III (summer)
        * Chinese 405, 406 Fourth-Year Chinese
        * Chinese 491, 492 Independent Study in Chinese Language
        * History 109 East Asian History to 1600
        * History 110 East Asian History 1600 to the Present
        * History 127 Islamic Civilization I: The Early and Medieval Islamic World
        * History 128 Islamic Civilization II: The Modern Islamic World: The Ottomans to Arafat
        * History 241 Early Japanese History
        * History 247 Early Chinese History
        * History 248 Topics in Asian History
        * History 300 Gender in Chinese History
        * History 301 East Asian Popular Religion
        * History 325 Women and Islam
        * History 343 Traditional Chinese History
        * History 344 Modern Chinese History
        * History 346 Modern Japanese History
        * History 349 Topics in Asian History
        * History 490 Seminar in Asian History
        * Japanese 305, 306 Third-Year Japanese
        * Japanese 405, 406 Fourth-Year Japanese
        * Japanese 491, 492 Independent Study in Japanese Language
        * Politics 359 Gender and International Hierarchy
        * Psychology 347 Japanese Psychology
        * Religion 207 Introduction to Islam
        * Religion 217 Qur’an
        * Religion 221 South Asian Religions I: The Formative Period
        * Religion 222 South Asian Religions II: The Classical Period
        * Religion 250 Buddhist Civilizations in Asia I: South and Southeast Asia
        * Religion 251 Buddhist Civilizations in Asia II: Central and East Asia
        * Religion 347 The Buddha
        * Religion 367 (cross listed as Classics 367): Comparative Indo-European Epic
        * Religion 389 ST: Esoteric Currents in Islam
        * World Literature 227 Chinese Folk Literature
        * World Literature 317 Classical Chinese Drama
        * World Literature 318 Modern Chinese Literature
        * World Literature 327 Classical Japanese Literature
        * World Literature 328 Haiku and Nature in Japan
        * World Literature 387 ST: Poet Monk in Japanese Literature

    160 Introduction to Asian Studies

    Taught by an Asian studies faculty member, this course is designed to introduce the study of Asia to students with little or no background in the area. Reflecting the geographical and theoretical diversity of the Asian studies field itself, the course is not limited to a particular part of Asia nor to a particular disciplinary approach. Rather, the course introduces students to selected exemplary Asian primary materials and scholarly perspectives on them in order to open up discussion of the larger ideas and issues which concern scholars working in the Asian studies field today.

    200 Special Topics: Summer Seminar in Chinese Studies

    Course offered at the Whitman Summer Studies in China program. Taught in China over a period of six weeks by the Whitman faculty member who is resident director. The course explores selected topics in Chinese studies and incorporates classroom and field studies. Prerequisite: admission to the Whitman Summer Studies in China program.

    200 Summer Seminar in Chinese Studies: Introduction to the Yunnan Peoples and History

    This course provides a general introduction to the peoples and history of Yunnan Province. Site of the Whitman Summer Studies in China Program (see also Chinese 110, 210 and 310), Yunnan is the most ethnically diverse province in China, and among the last to be incorporated into the former empire. This seminar will introduce students to the major ethnic divisions in the province, their cultural differences, and their histories of interaction with each other and with the Han Chinese. We also will cover provincial geography, and the history and architecture of the capital city, Kunming. Regular field trips in and about Kunming during the first four weeks of the program will be followed by an intensive two-week tour of northwest Yunnan, where we will learn first hand about Bai, Tibetan, Naxi, Pumi and Yi ethnic groups. Prerequisites: admission to the Whitman Summer Studies in China program.

    201-204 Special Topics: Intermediate Level

    The course explores selected topics in Asian studies at the intermediate level.

    301 Special Topics: Advanced Level

    The course explores selected topics in Asian studies at the advanced level.

    411, 412 Individual Projects

    Directed individual study and research. Prerequisites: appropriate prior coursework in Asian studies and consent of the supervising instructor.

    490 Senior Seminar in Asian Studies

    Taught by an Asian studies faculty member with guest participation by others. This class expands on themes and ideas about the study of Asia first examined in Asian Studies 160. Like Asian Studies 160 the course is not limited to a particular part of Asia nor to a particular disciplinary approach. The class also will provide seniors a structured program for helping them to formulate a thesis topic based on a firm foundation of methodological and theoretical discussions in the discipline of Asian studies. Students will conduct research related to their thesis topic resulting in a detailed research proposal. Prerequisites: open only to Asian studies seniors.

    492 Thesis

    Senior majors will work with an adviser to record in a thesis a substantial original research project based on the research proposal completed in Asian Studies 490. Prerequisites: open only to Asian studies seniors.

    498 Honors Thesis

    Designed to further independent research leading to the preparation of an undergraduate honors thesis in Asian studies. Required of and limited to senior honors candidates in Asian studies. Prerequisite: admission to honors candidacy.

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