BA in Asian Studies

Asian Studies is a major offered in the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies to students enrolled in the College of Arts & Sciences. The major focuses on East Asia and South Asia, with attention to Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Rim. It provides a broad interdisciplinary and comparative perspective, to deepen understanding of how Asian people, nations, states, regions and diasporas have developed, functioned, and interacted, and how they view the world and themselves. The major is designed to be flexible, easily tailored to each student’s interests and learning goals, whether those focus on a certain country in the region or on particular transnational issues such as cultural flows, security, or economic development.

Asian Studies majors are well prepared for graduate study and for careers in government, local and international non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. Majors study an Asian language (Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, or Urdu) for at least five semesters, acquiring linguistic and cultural proficiency sufficient for professional life in or related to the region; they also develop competence in both humanities and social sciences, and the mini seminar CAS AI 101 helps them integrate these disciplinary approaches and understand the utility and limits of each. Every student builds an Asian Studies Portfolio tracking his or her coursework, language learning milestones, study abroad experiences, participation in Asia-related events, conversations with visiting experts, and reflections. Seniors may present their research projects at an annual symposium. Majors thus have a continuous opportunity to explore, deepen, evaluate, and perhaps revise their own pre-existing beliefs and ideas about the global significance of this large and complex region.

Summary of Requirements

The Major in Asian Studies requires a total of 11 (four-credit) core and principal courses, plus fifth semester proficiency in an Asian language, and a one-credit mini-seminar. The three core courses, eight principal courses, and mini-seminar must all be completed with a grade of C or higher. At least six core and principal courses must be at the 300-level or higher. At least six must be taken on BU’s Boston campus or through BU Study Abroad; up to five core and principal courses taken at other universities and accepted for BU credit may be counted toward the major with prior approval by the Academic Coordinator.

Required Courses

1. Core Courses (3)

The core requirement consists of three courses on general Asian topics. These courses should be selected from the list below. Note that courses on this list not taken to fulfill the core requirement may be taken to fulfill the principal course requirement (item 2 below).

  • CAS AH 225 The Arts of Asia
  • CAS AN 305 Comparative Family Systems in Asia
  • CAS AN 318 Southeast Asia: Tradition and Development
  • CAS AN 375/RN 375 Culture, Society, and Religion in South Asia
  • CAS AN 379 China and Taiwan: Tradition and Transition
  • CAS AR 261 Asia’s Ancient Cultures and Civilizations
  • CAS AR 390 The Archaeology of Southeast Asia
  • CAS HI 482 Merchants, Pirates, Missionaries, and the State in Maritime Asia, 600-2000
  • CAS IR 275/PO 365 The Pacific Challenge
  • CAS IR 368 Contemporary East Asian Economics (meets with CAS EC 368)
  • CAS IR 369 Southeast Asia in World Politics
  • CAS IR 441 Transnational Immigration and Development in Asia
  • CAS RN 103 Religions of the World: Eastern
  • CAS SO 328 Contemporary South Asian Societies
  • CAS XL 224 Introduction to Comparative Literature: East Asia
  • CAS XL 225 Introduction to Comparative Literature: South Asia
  • CAS XL 260/LC 260/LJ 260/LK 260/LN 260 Gateway to Asian Cultures

2. Principal Courses (8)

Eight principal courses are required. At least three of these courses must be distributed in the humanities, and at least three in the social sciences. Humanities courses for the major are taught in the CAS departments of History of Art & Architecture, Modern Languages & Comparative Literature, Philosophy, and Religion and in the CFA Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology. Social science courses are offered in anthropology, economics, history, international relations, political science, and sociology. Archaeology courses may fall in either category. A cross-listed course can be counted only once to fulfill one requirement or elective in humanities or social science. One or two advanced Asian language courses at the 300-level or above, when taken in addition to courses toward the fifth-semester language requirement (see item 3 below), may be used as elective principal courses.

Humanities: Central Asia
  • CAS AH 314 After Genghis Khan: Art and Architecture in Central Asia and Iran
Humanities: East Asia
  • CAS AH 225 The Arts of Asia
  • CAS AH 326 Arts of Japan
  • CAS AH 327 Arts of China
  • CAS AH 328 Modern Japanese Architecture
  • CAS AH 425 Seminar: Topics in Asian Art (either China or Japan)
  • CAS AH 530 Chinese and Japanese Calligraphy: History, Theory, and Practice
  • CAS AH 531 Modern Asian Art in Global Context
  • CAS AH 532 Japanese Print Culture
  • CAS AR 240 Archaeology of Ancient China
  • CAS LC 250 Masterpieces of Classical Chinese Literature (in English translation)
  • CAS LC 251 Masterpieces of Modern Chinese Literature
  • CAS LC 280 The Chinese Classics
  • CAS LC 283 Chinese Civilization (in English translation)
  • CAS LC 284 Introduction to Chinese Women’s Writing (in English translation)
  • CAS LC 285 Topics in Chinese Literature (in English translation)
  • CAS LC 286 Topics in Chinese Culture
  • CAS LC 287 Chinese Cinema
  • CAS LC 314/LJ 314/LK 314 Classical Chinese for Students of East Asia
  • CAS LC 315 Classical Chinese
  • CAS LC 316 Topics in Classical Chinese
  • CAS LC 470 Topics in Chinese Literature and Culture
  • CAS LJ 250 Masterpieces of Japanese Literature (in English translation)
  • CAS LJ 251 Modern Japanese Literature
  • CAS LJ 281 Japanese Civilization English translation)
  • CAS LJ 282 The Culture of the Samurai (in English translation)
  • CAS LJ 283 Modern Japanese Culture in Cinema (in English translation)
  • CAS LJ 316 Classical Japanese
  • CAS LJ 350 Readings in Modern Japanese Fiction
  • CAS LJ 451 Topics in Japanese Literature
  • CAS LJ 480 Japanese Women Writers (in English translation)
  • CAS LJ 481 Topics in Japanese Literature (in English translation)
  • CAS LK 250 Introduction to Korean Literature (in English translation)
  • CAS LK 470 Korean Literature and Culture
  • CAS LK 383 Modern Korean Culture through Cinema (in English translation)
  • CAS PH 247 Introduction to Chinese Philosophy
  • CAS RN 103 Religions of the World: Eastern
  • CAS RN 210 Buddhism
  • CAS RN 211 Chinese Religion
  • CAS RN 215 Japanese Religion
  • CAS RN 243 Shamans and Shamanism
  • CAS RN 360 Daoist Religion
  • CAS RN 362 Chinese Medicine
  • CAS RN 363 Zen Buddhism
  • CAS RN 364 Buddhist Literature
  • CAS RN 430 Topics in East Asian Religions: Meditation
  • CAS XL 224 Introduction to Comparative Literature: East Asia
  • CAS XL 260/LC 260/LJ 260/LK 260/LN 260 Gateway to Asian Cultures
Humanities: South and Southeast Asia
  • CAS AH 313 Imperial Reflections: Early Modern Islamic Art and Architecture
  • CAS AH 531 Modern Asian Art in Global Context
  • CAS LN 225 Tradition and Modernity in Indian Film and Literature
  • CAS PH 246 Indian Philosophy
  • CAS RN 103 Religions of the World: Eastern
  • CAS RN 210 Buddhism
  • CAS RN 213 Hinduism
  • CAS RN 341 Islamic Mysticism: Sufism
  • CAS RN 388 Oral Tradition as Verbal Art
  • CAS RN 425 Topics in South Asian Religions
  • CAS RN 429 Religion and Politics in South Asia
  • CAS RN 524 Topics in Religion and Literature (varies)
  • CAS XL 225 Introduction to Comparative Literature: South Asia
  • CAS XL 260/LC 260/LJ 260/LK 260/LN 260 Gateway to Asian Cultures
  • CAS XL 342 Travel Writing and the Muslim World
  • CFA MU 351 Topics in World Music [if topical focus is on South and/or Southeast Asia]
  • CFA MU 559 World Music and Culture [if topical focus is on South and/or Southeast Asia]
  • CFA MU 567 World Music Ensemble [if topical focus is on South and/or Southeast Asia]
Social Sciences: Central Asia
  • CAS AN 347 Afghanistan
  • CAS HI 382/IR 328 Turko-Persia in the Twentieth Century
Social Sciences: East Asia
  • CAS AN 305 Comparative Family Systems in Asia
  • CAS AN 344 Modern Japanese Society: Family, School, and Workplace
  • CAS AN 379 China and Taiwan: Tradition and Transformation
  • CAS AN 505 Asian Development: The Case of Women
  • CAS HI 363 Introduction to Early Chinese History
  • CAS HI 364 Introduction to Modern Chinese History
  • CAS HI 369 Introduction to Modern Japanese History
  • CAS HI 370 The Samurai in Myth and History
  • CAS HI 481 Looking East, Looking West: Mutual (Mis)Representations of Japan and West
  • CAS HI 487 The Making of Modern China, 1600 to present
  • CAS HI 488 Interwar Japan and the Pacific War
  • CAS HI 489 Causes and Consequences of the Pacific War
  • CAS IR 370 China: From Revolution to Reform (meets with CAS PO 369)
  • CAS IR 365 The Rise of China (meets with CAS PO 352)
  • CAS IR 527 The Political Economy of China (meets with CAS PO 548)
  • CAS IR 441 Transnational Immigration and Development in Asia
  • CAS IR 501 Conflict and Cooperation in Asia (meets with PO 554)
  • CAS IR 520 The State and Public Purpose in Asia (meets with CAS PO 550)
  • CAS IR 570 Politics and Social Change in Postwar Japan (meets with CAS PO 551)
  • CAS IR 577 Foreign Policy of the People’s Republic of China (meets with CAS PO 576)
  • CAS IR 579 Japan in International Politics (meets with CAS PO 552)
  • CAS IR 585 Problems and Issues in Post-Mao China (meets with CAS PO 549)
Social Sciences: South Asia
  • CAS AN 325 Hinduism, Globalization and World Politics
  • CAS AN 375 Culture, Society, and Religion in South Asia (meets with CAS RN 375)
  • CAS AN 505 Asian Development: The Case of Women
  • CAS AN 388 Oral Tradition as Verbal Art
  • CAS AR 360 The Indus Valley
  • CAS AR 560 Civilizations of Central and South Asia
  • CAS HI 234 Introduction to India and South Asia
  • CAS IR 372 International Relations of South Asia (meets with CAS PO 355)
  • CAS IR 381 US-Pakistan Relations
  • CAS IR 501 Conflict and Cooperation in Asia (meets with PO 554)
  • CAS IR 506 India & the World
  • CAS IR 520 The State and Public Purpose in Asia (meets with CAS PO 550)
  • CAS IR 586 Islam in South Asian Politics
  • GRS IR 758 (PO 785) Comparative Political Economy of China and India
  • CAS SO 328 Contemporary South Asian Societies
Social Sciences: Southeast Asia
  • CAS AN 318 Southeast Asia: Tradition and Development
  • CAS AR 390 The Archaeology of Southeast Asia
  • CAS IR 369 Southeast Asia in World Politics (meets with CAS PO 354)

3. Required Related Language Courses

The major requires study of one language (Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Urdu, or, where appropriate, another Asian language) through at least the fifth-semester level, or equivalent proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, and listening as demonstrated through testing. Students interested in graduate study in an Asian field or employment in the region are advised to pursue the language beyond this level, through either advanced language courses at Boston University or study abroad. To encourage the development of advanced linguistic proficiency, one or two Asian language courses at the 300-level or beyond, when taken in addition to courses toward fulfillment of the fifth-semester language requirement, may be counted as elective principal courses.

4. Seminar: CAS AI 101: Introduction to Asian Studies

This 1-credit seminar, to be taken in the fall semester of students’ first or second year, introduces them to the major, the field, and the lively community of pan-Asian studies at BU.

Honors Program

Honors in Asian Studies may be earned by completing two semesters of independent senior honors work (CAS AI 401/402) and presenting an original research paper (thesis) in written and oral form to a committee of faculty readers. The committee will consider both the thesis and the result of the oral examination to determine whether the student will receive honors in the major. A grade of B+ or better in each semester of AI 401/402 is also required for the award of honors. While an honors project will normally require two on-campus semesters of research and writing, in special cases a one-semester project can grow out of research begun during a semester of study abroad or service learning in Asia. Students doing honors work will present their work at an annual symposium to which all Asian Studies faculty and fellow majors will be invited.

Admission to the Honors Program requires a grade point average of at least 3.20, overall and in the major. Interested sophomores and juniors should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies to discuss ideas for research and faculty mentors.

Study Abroad

All majors are strongly urged to spend a summer, semester, or academic year studying in Asia. Students should consult with their advisor about options available through BU Study Abroad. Those include programs with East Asian focus at Fudan University (Shanghai, China); Renmin University Exchange (Beijing, China); Keio University Exchange (Tokyo, Japan); and the Kyoto Center for Japanese Studies (Kyoto, Japan). In Southeast Asia, BU sponsors an exchange program with National University of Singapore. With prior approval from the BU Study Abroad Manager of External Programs and the student’s academic advisor, credit toward the major may also be awarded for coursework completed under the auspices of BU-recommended programs in South Asia (Bhutan, Nepal, and India).