May 26, 2024  
Course Catalog 2017-2018 
Course Catalog 2017-2018 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

East Asian Studies

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Hsiu-Chuang Deppman, Associate Professor, Program Director
Marc Jeremy Blecher, Professor
Bonnie Cheng, Associate Professor
James Dobbins, Fairchild Professor
Suzanne Gay, Professor
Keren He, Visiting Assistant Professor
Moe Hirose, Visiting Instructor
Sheila Miyoshi Jager, Professor
David E. Kelley, Associate Professor
Sachiko Kondo, Lecturer
Kai Li, Senior Lecturer
Fang Liu, Senior Lecturer
Qiusha Ma, Professor
Emer O’Dwyer, Associate Professor
Ann Sherif, Professor
Miho Suzuki, Lecturer
Grace Ting, Visiting Assistant Professor
Hengyu Zhang, Visiting Instructor
Xin Zhang, Visiting Assistant Professor


The East Asian Studies Program is an interdisciplinary program focusing on the region that includes China, Japan, and Korea. The main goals of the program are to provide training in East Asian languages and to introduce students to the societies, cultures, and histories of the region through courses in anthropology, art history, cinema, economics, history, literature, politics and religion. Since language study is an integral part of the East Asian Studies major, interested students are strongly advised to begin language study in their first or second year at Oberlin. This is especially true of students who hope to spend time studying abroad.


 This interdisciplinary major program combines language study with coursework in various disciplines. Students may choose a program which focuses on one of the following

  1. East Asian regional studies,
  2. China or Japan (Chinese or Japanese Studies),
  3. a discipline (e.g. History, Religion), or
  4. Chinese or Japanese language, literature, and film. Students who choose this option must complete two semesters of 400-level language courses and must take a minimum of four non-language courses, including at least two literature-in-translation and/or film courses.
  5. Korean Studies: This concentration may be completed through coursework at Oberlin and study abroad at an approved institution.

All majors must complete:

 1.  Language Requirement:  The minimum language requirement is completion of CHIN302/JAPN302 or
      proficiency equivalent to CHIN302 or JAPN 302, based on assessment by EAS.

  • All majors must complete at least two semesters of language at Oberlin College.
  •  In the case of Korean language, the equivalent of four semesters taken at an approved institution will also meet this requirement.

2.  EAS Elective Courses: A minimum of six full courses offered through EAS and other departments that offer East Asian courses (such as ART, HIST, POLT, RELG), including:

  • Courses in the student’s area of concentration
  • At least two non-language courses that do not focus exclusively on their country of interest. Courses that examine East Asia from a regional perspective also count toward this requirement

At least one upper-level seminar.

A maximum of two language courses at the 400-level can count toward this elective requirement. FYSP seminars count toward the major if they are primarily East Asia content. Please consult the catalog for prerequisites to upper-level seminars and plan accordingly.

3.   A Capstone Project:

The Capstone Project is an opportunity to bring to bear on a focused intellectual project the various elements of one’s East Asian Studies training. Normally completed in the senior year, the Capstone Project may be done in one of three ways:
1) as a research project in addition to or more substantial than the regular assignments in a scheduled upper-level colloquium or seminar taught by an EAS faculty member, or
2) as a project in a 400-level Chinese or Japanese language course, or
3) as a Winter Term project overseen by an EAS faculty member.

In all cases, students need to consult individually and early in the term with the EAS faculty member. There is a separate form of registration for the Capstone Project. Students who study abroad should complete the capstone in residence at Oberlin. Successful completion of Honors fulfills the Capstone Project requirement.     

Students who enter the program with previous language training or exposure are still required to take a minimum of two full language courses to complete the major. Students with native or near-native proficiency in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean language must study another East Asian language to fulfill the requirements of the major.

Courses in which a student earned a NP or letter grade below a C- cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of the major.


The minor consists of a minimum of five courses. No more than two of the five can be language courses. Three of the five courses must be taken at Oberlin. At least one course must be beyond the introductory level. Students interested in a minor should consult with an EAS faculty member and/or the director in order to assure that the minor program is coherent.

Placement Tests


All incoming students who have acquired linguistic ability in Chinese elsewhere, or who wish to qualify for advanced courses, should take the placement test administered during Orientation, or in consultation with a Chinese faculty member, to determine the level at which Chinese study should be continued.


All incoming students who have acquired linguistic ability in Japanese elsewhere, or who wish to qualify for advanced courses, should take the placement test administered during Orientation, or in consultation with a Japanese faculty member, to determine the level at which Japanese study should be continued.

Study in China

The East Asian Studies Program offers the opportunity for study in China under the auspices of the following two programs. Students on financial aid should consult the Financial Aid Office before planning to participate in either of these programs. For more information and applications, contact the Chinese Studies Faculty and the Office of the Dean of Studies.
  1. Associated Colleges in China (ACC). This program, based at the Capital University of Economics and Business at Beijing, offers intensive instruction in the Chinese language. Students may participate for a summer, one or two semesters, or for a full twelve months. Students are required to have completed a full year of Chinese to participate in this program.
  2. CET Academic Programs (CET). This program offers intensive instruction in Chinese language at campuses in Beijing for one semester or one year. Housed at Capital Normal University, the Beijing Language Program focuses on language study at all levels and requires a language pledge. Beijing Chinese Studies is designed for beginners through intermediate level language students, and includes language and disciplinary courses taught in English.

Study in Japan

The East Asian Studies Program offers the opportunity for study in Japan under the auspices of the following two programs. Students on financial aid should consult the Financial Aid Office before planning to participate in either of these programs.

  1. Associated Kyoto Program. This program, which offers the student a year abroad amidst the academic and cultural attractions of Japan’s ancient imperial capital, is based at Doshisha University, one of Japan’s leading private universities. Students can earn up to 32 hours of credit, which are subject to the transfer of credit fee. Prerequisites for admission include one full year of Japanese, EAST 131, a 3.0 GPA, a B average in Japanese, and an interview.
  2. GLCA-ACM Japan Study Program. This program is based at Waseda University in Tokyo, one of Japan’s leading private universities, and includes language study and independent research. Students admitted to this program can earn up to 30 hours of credit. The transfer of credit fee is also applicable to this program. A minimum GPA of 3.0 and one semester of Japanese are required for admission. For more information about this program, contact the Office of the Dean of Studies.

Transfer of Credit

The transfer of credit is not automatic. Students wishing to apply transfer credit to the major should be advised that a minimum of 6 full courses must be completed at Oberlin, including at least one year of language study and the capstone project. For the minor, no less than half of the course work, including one full course in non-language course work, must be completed at Oberlin.


Admission to the Honors Program will be by invitation of the EAS faculty at the end of the second semester of the junior year. Students interested in being considered for Honors are encouraged to indicate their interest and discuss the details of the program with any member of the East Asian Studies faculty early in their junior year. By May 1 of the junior year, the candidate will submit a tentative written proposal and bibliography. Students admitted to Honors will present a progress report at mid-year to the faculty. The final written project will be submitted in May of the senior year, when the oral examination will be scheduled. Both the thesis and the oral examination will figure in the awarding of Honors.

Newton Prize

The annual Newton Prize competition is open to all students in the College. Monetary prizes are awarded for the best essays, research papers, translations, etc., on Asian themes that promote better understanding between East and West. Works submitted are evaluated by the EAS faculty. Deadline for submission of entries is late March.

DiCenzo Prize

Established by Ron DiCenzo, emeritus professor of East Asian Studies, in honor of his mother, the Margaret Ribovich DiCenzo Prize for Academic Excellence in East Asian Studies is awarded annually to qualified graduating majors by the EAS faculty on the basis of scholastic achievement. 

Asia House

Asia House is the program dormitory for students who demonstrate an interest in Asia. In an atmosphere of co-ed living, student-oriented programs about Asia are sponsored annually, including formal lectures, workshops, political discussions, films, performances, martial arts, calligraphy, concerts, exhibits and other entertainment. Students play a major role in planning and coordinating these events. In nearby Stevenson Dining Hall, Chinese and Japanese language tables meet several times a week.

Winter Term

The following faculty are willing to sponsor Winter Term projects as indicated.  Ms. Cheng: Chinese and Japanese Art.  Ms. Deppman: Chinese Literature and Film.  Mr. Dobbins: East Asian Religions.  Ms. Miyoshi Jager: Korean History.  Mr. Kelley: Chinese History.  Ms. Kondo: Japanese Language.  Mr. Li:  Chinese Language.  Ms. Liu:  Chinese Language.  Ms. Ma: Chinese Language, History and Culture.   Ms. O’Dwyer: Japanese History.  Ms. Sherif:  Japanese Language and Literature.  Ms. Suzuki: Japanese Language.

East Asian Studies Courses in Various Disciplines

In addition to East Asian Studies course offerings, the following courses may be taken to fulfill the East Asian Studies major requirements. For questions concerning courses that are not listed below but which may count toward the major, consult a member of the East Asian Studies Program faculty.

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