East Asian Studies Department

Language courses offered by the department are listed separately under “Chinese” and “Japanese.”

The East Asian Studies Department offers students a multidisciplinary approach to understanding Japan, China, and Korea. Our mission is to build language competency in Japanese or Chinese and provide in-depth exposure to traditional and contemporary East Asia through a wide variety of course offerings across the humanistic and social science disciplines.

A major in East Asian studies will achieve an ability to communicate effectively in English and an East Asian language, to critically interpret texts, to develop research skills using primary sources and data, and to acquire a comparative understanding of the region. Students achieve these goals through an immersion experience in East Asia as well as their course work at Colby.


Chair, Associate Professor Hong Zhang (Chinese)
Professors Hideko Abe (Japanese), James Behuniak (Philosophy), Kimberly Besio (Chinese), Nikky Singh (Religious Studies), and Ankeney Weitz (Asian Art History); Associate Professors  Daniel LaFave (Economics), Steven Nuss (Music), and Hong Zhang (Chinese); Assistant Professors Inga Kim Diederich (History), Jun Fang (Sociology), Seth Kim (Cinema Studies, on leave 2022-23), Deirdre Martin (Government), Laura Nuffer (Japanese, on leave 2022-23), and Andie Wang (Chinese, on leave 2022-23); Visiting Assistant Professors Hui-Ching Lu (Chinese) and Jun Takashashi (Japanese); Language Assistants Kuei-Lan Cheng (Chinese) and Maiko Kawano (Japanese) 

Requirements +

Requirements for the Major in East Asian Studies

One introductory comparative course (East Asian Studies 150); a language concentration consisting of three language courses beyond the all-college requirement (normally Japanese 128, 321, and 322 or one 400-level Japanese course; or Chinese 128, 321, and 322 or one 400-level Chinese course); one capstone course, East Asian Studies 493, taken only in the fall semester of the senior year; and an additional six courses chosen from those approved for the East Asian studies major. These six courses must conform to the following distribution: one 200-level art, religion, philosophy, literature, or music course; one 200-level government, anthropology, economics, education, history, or sociology course; one 300-level or 400-level course; and three additional electives. Fourth-year language courses or three- or four-credit East Asian language courses outside the language concentration may constitute elective courses. Students who start taking Chinese or Japanese at the 300-level or above are expected to take at least four language courses, which may include three- or four-credit independent study Japanese 491, 492 or Chinese 491, 492. East Asian studies majors are required to spend at least one semester of study in the country of their language concentration. Under extraordinary circumstances students may petition to substitute an equivalent immersion experience in the country of the language concentration for a semester of study.

The point scale for retention of the major applies to all courses offered toward the major. No requirement for the major may be taken satisfactory/unsatisfactory. To achieve distinction in the East Asian studies major, the student will have to achieve a 3.5 grade point average in the courses listed for the major and will have to take two additional language courses beyond those required for the major. These courses may be a continuation of the language of concentration at the 400 level, or they may be introductory courses in a second Asian language.

Honors in East Asian Studies

An honors program is available for senior majors who have earned a 3.5 major average. Normally, application to the program must be submitted prior to the senior year. Some aspect of the culture of East Asia must be studied as the honors project in East Asian Studies 483 and 484.

Attention is called to the minor in Chinese and the minor in Japanese. Requirements for these minors are listed under “Chinese” and “Japanese.”

Requirements for the Minor in East Asian Studies

The East Asian studies minor consists of six courses: one introductory comparative course (East Asian Studies 150); two language courses at or above the 126 level in either Chinese or Japanese; three non-language courses, one at the 200 level, one at or above the 200 level, and the third at the 300 level or above. Courses may be selected from offerings in anthropology, art, economics, government, history, literature, music, philosophy, and religious studies courses on East Asia. With the exception of one introductory comparative course, no content course at the 100 level will count toward the minor.

Other Applicable Courses +

Courses Approved for the Major in East Asian Studies


  • 173 East Asian Art and Architecture to 1300
  • 174 East Asian Art and Architecture, 1300 to the Present
  • 276 Zen and the Arts in Asia
  • 378 Chinese Visual Culture
  • 398 Japanese Visual Culture
  • 393 Museum Practicum (when appropriate)


  • 339 Asian Pacific Modernities
  • 254 Global Local Asia


  • All courses offered

Cinema Studies

  • Topics in Global Cinema: Contemporary Japanese Cinema

East Asian Studies

  • All courses offered


  • 279 Economic Rise and Future of China


  • 256 Introduction to East Asian Politics
  • 355 Winners and Losers in Chinese Politics
  • 356 Winners and Losers in Japanese Politics
  • 357 Political Economy of Regionalism


  • 197 History of Modern East Asia
  • 144 Patterns in East Asian History to 1600
  • 146 Modern East Asian History 1600 to Present
  • 297A Modern Japan
  • 297 A History of Samurai
  • 351 Desiring Asia Gender and Sexuality in East Asia
  • 397 Minorities in East Asia
  • 397C  Special Topics in Premodern Chinese History
  • 397 A Global History of Manga and Anime
  • 398 Maine in Japan


  • All courses offered


  • 254 Music of Meditation
  • 275 Cultured Tough Guys: Samurai Devotion, Music, Poetry, and Art


  • 265 Chinese Philosophy
  • 266 Buddhist Philosophy

Religious Studies

  • 212 Religions of China, Japan, and Tibet
  • 263: Buddhism Across East Asia