East Asian Studies

Brief Description of Concentration

east asian studiesTo study East Asia is to be exposed to diverse forms of political activity and social relations, religious traditions of great depth, philosophical schools with enduring insights, and literatures of tremendous range and power. Concentrators in East Asian Studies develop an expertise in the region and gain a critical understanding of the human experience in East Asia and its diaspora. The program gives students the freedom, advising support, and infrastructure to study East Asia as a whole and to pursue specialized study of one or more societies from any disciplinary vantage point. Our students’ interests range from topics in sociology, government, and economics to art, literature, culture, and new media. East Asian Studies is an interdisciplinary concentration that welcomes students interested in the humanities and/or the social sciences.

Learning Objectives

A concentrator in East Asian Studies develops skills in a language, participates in the tutorial program, and selects from a rich offering of lecture courses and seminars. The concentration aims to examine East Asian cultures by foregrounding texts and voices from the region, past and present. Language study is therefore an important component of the program both for the practical benefits of proficiency for coursework and future careers, and as one of the most meaningful ways to expand one’s intellectual horizons and challenge preexisting worldviews. Students take language courses on campus and through Harvard’s numerous study-abroad opportunities in Asia. The concentration also accommodates students with different levels of time to devote to language learning and specialization through our individual tracks.
The tutorial program in East Asian Studies begins with EASTD 97 (normally taken in the sophomore year, but open to all years), which explores topics and concepts essential to studying the region and introduces methodologies and tools for critical thinking. By covering East Asia as a whole, the course provides a valuable comparative and interregional perspective. EASTD 98 and other eligible courses are junior tutorials in which students work closely with faculty to write a substantial research paper in their area of interest. Junior tutorials pave the way for EASTD 99ab, a seminar taken the entire senior year that allows students time to research, write, and receive feedback on senior theses. 

Gateway Courses

  • Language Courses: students are encouraged to begin language study in their first semester, if possible. Offerings include Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese, as well as Manchu, Mongolian, Uyghur, and Chaghatay.
  • EAS97: Introduction to the Study of East Asia: Issues and Methods. Normally taken in the sophomore year, but open to all. Taught every spring semester.

EASTD 140 Major Religious Texts of East Asia
EASTD 170 Medicine and the Self in China and the West
EAFM 111 East Asian Media Studies
FRSEMR 61M Silk Road Stories
FRSEMR 71D Zen and the Art of Living
GENED 1049 East Asian Cinema
GENED 1091 Classical Chinese Ethical and Political Theory
GENED 1100 The Two Koreas in the Modern World
HIST 1023 Japan in Asia and the World
HIST 1610 East Asian Environments
CHNSLIT 114 Introduction to Premodern Chinese Literature
JAPNLIT 170 Traditional Japanese Literature
KORLIT 134 Korean Literature in Translation

For a more complete listing, visit: https://eas.fas.harvard.edu/area-courses


East Asian Studies alumni go on to pursue successful careers in a variety of fields. To hear their stories, visit:

Upcoming Advising Events

To find upcoming events for this concentration, visit: https://eas.fas.harvard.edu/calendar/upcoming
Contact naia_poyer@fas.harvard.edu and ask to be added to the EAS listserv and weekly newsletter list to keep up with concentration announcements and opportunities.