About the Program

An Overview of EAS at Washington and Lee

Recognizing that Western culture exists in an ever-shrinking and globally connected world, the East Asian Studies Interdisciplinary Program is dedicated to expanding the intellectual horizons of its students to include the cultures of China and Japan. The increasing strategic, economic, and social importance of Asia makes it imperative that our students be prepared both theoretically and practically to understand and deal with Asia on many levels. To this end, East Asian Studies' minor approaches the civilizations of China and Japan from multiple standpoints that include their art, history, languages and literatures, religions and philosophies, politics, and economics. In the belief that Asia must be directly experienced in order to be understood fully, the East Asian Studies Program also stresses the importance of study abroad and has established exchanges and special arrangements that allow Washington and Lee students to study in China, Taiwan, and Japan. Students from these countries also study on the Lexington campus, either through an exchange program or as regular four-year undergraduate students.

In 1972, a grant from the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation permitted us to develop a Chinese studies program. Subsequently, grants from the Japan Foundation, income from the Jock A. R. Stewart Fund, and a gift from Taiwan of more than 1,000 books on art and literature enabled the University to expand and refine its library resources in the field. More recent grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation have supported faculty development and made it possible to sponsor numerous cultural events and guest speakers on campus as well as to bring native teaching assistants each year from Taiwan and Japan. Where funds are available, the East Asian Studies Program also provides financial assistance to students selected for study in Asia.

The presence on the W&L campus of the Reeves Center and the adjacent Watson Pavilion, with their collections of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean ceramics and other decorative arts, further enhances East Asian Studies at the University. The Reeves Center collection, which includes more than 3,000 pieces of ceramics, is especially known for its important holdings of Chinese export porcelain. The Watson Pavilion houses an extensive collection of Chinese art, especially from the Ming and Qing dynasties, as well as Japanese decorative arts of the Edo period.

The East Asian Studies interdisciplinary minor permits the student to focus upon a single culture or upon both. In every case, it insures that the student has the opportunity to acquire a broad background in a variety of fields, including language. It is designed to provide the perspective and many of the practical tools needed for further study of Asia, or as enhancement to a career in such areas as business, government, law, and journalism.