East Asian Studies

  • Department Interdisciplinary
  • Academic Division The College
  • Offerings Minor

A student examines a piece of Asian pottery in a display case A student examines a piece of Asian pottery in a display case

East Asian studies is a closely coordinated, interdepartmental program representing seven departments and eight disciplines. It offers some 50 courses, ranging from art to culminating in a minor that may be focused upon either China or Japan. Interested students are encouraged to study abroad in East Asia.

East Asian Studies 

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.

The 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 stresses the importance of study abroad 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.

Opportunities 
  • Summer scholarships are available to study intensive Chinese or Japanese at Washington University in St. Louis with the ALLEX Foundation
  • Study Abroad programs in Asia are approved by W&L and listed on our Center for International Education website
  • The student paper competition allows undergraduate students to compete for a cash prize, registration and lodging for the 2017 annual conference, and publication in ASIANetwork
  • Exchange: A Journal for Asian Studies in the Liberal Arts.
  • Conferences: Annual Asia Network Conference
Authentic Japanese Tea Room

W&L’s Japanese Tea Room was named Senshin’an 洗心庵 “Clearing-the-Mind Abode” by Sen Genshitsu, 15th-generation Grand Master of the Urasenke Tradition of Tea. This architectural treasure was built in the Watson Pavilion on campus, where it serves as a classroom laboratory for the study of Chanoyu 茶の湯, or the Way of Tea, and a center for cultural activities relating to the arts of Japan.

David Bello

Program Head

Amanda Smith

Administrative Assistant

News


Griffin Conti '26 and Christy Childs '26

Two Washington and Lee ROTC Students Receive Project Global Officer Grants

Christy Childs ’26 and Griffin Conti ’26 will receive funding to study foreign languages this summer.

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Hongchu Fu

W&L Professor Publishes Book in English Translation with Full Annotations

Hongchu Fu offers a look into the Yuan Dynasty under Mongol Rule in “Three Yuan Plays by Yang Zi.”

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Visitors mingle during Born of Fire opening reception

Lighting a Fire

The Museums at W&L invites visitors to reflect on “Born of Fire: Contemporary Japanese Women Ceramic Artists,” on display through April 29.

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Alex Wilkerson ’22 Wins All-American Attorney Award

Wilkerson received an All-American Attorney Award from the American Mock Trial Association.

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Weinstein Scholars Ian Bodenheimer '22, Tyler Waldman '24, Sophie Huber '25, and Andrew Tartakovsky '23 at Pass the Plate, a cultural food-tasting event they planned.

Pass the Plate Celebrates Cultural Heritage Through Food

The Weinstein Scholar annual program invited students to take a culinary trip around the world without leaving the Washington and Lee campus.

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Program Spotlight: Center for International Education – Study Abroad

Approximately 70% of students participate in an abroad program during their time at W&L.

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This figure of a deer made in the early 19th century exemplifies how Chinese potters blended elaborate design for European tastes with encoded symbolic meaning.

Beauty in the Beasts

A deer figure on display in a new Watson Galleries exhibit, "Auspicious Animals," is an example of the Chinese practice of blending European tastes with encoded symbolic meaning.

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W&L’s Asian and Pacific Islander Community Pulls Together to #StopAPIHate

Washington and Lee University’s Office of Inclusion and Engagement recently released a video featuring members of W&L’s Asian and Pacific Islander community, calling on the world to notice, and end, incidents of hate.

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Building a Bridge Across the Globe

Thanks to an exchange program funded by the Japanese government, a group of W&L students spent Washington Break immersed in the culture of Japan—and welcomed Kanazawa University students to W&L one month later.

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Office Hours with David Bello

The Elizabeth Lewis Otey Professor of East Asian Studies takes a bug-eyed view of history.

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W&L Chanoyu Tea Society to Host Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Tea

W&L's Chanoyu Tea Society will host their annual Martin Luther King, Jr. tea ceremony on Jan. 21

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From the Collections ceramic - SQUARE

A Salad Bowl with a Sordid Past

This elegant bowl, which is part of W&L's Reeves Collection, can be traced back to the Opium War of 1839-1842.

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Sample Courses

At W&L, we believe education and experience go hand-in-hand. You’ll be encouraged to dive in, explore and discover connections that will broaden your perspective.

ARTH 140

Asian Art

A survey of artistic traditions from South (including the Himalayan region), East, and Southeast Asia from roughly the 1st to the 18th centuries CE. The course focuses on a wide range of media - including architecture, sculpture, painting, textiles, and book arts - that serve a spectrum of religious and secular functions. The broad temporal, geographic, and topical scope of this course is meant to provide students with a basic understanding of not only the greatest artistic achievements and movements in Asia, but also the historical and political contexts that gave rise to these extraordinary pieces of art.

LIT 225

Poetry and Drama of Japan

This course is designed to introduce students to the poetry and theater of Japan's premodern era. We examine classical themes and poetic art forms, and read from the vast canon of Japanese poetry. The second part of the course offers a close study of the four traditional dramatic art forms of Japan: Noh, Kyogen or Comic Theater, Puppet Theater, and Kabuki.

ENGL 382

Hotel Orient

This seminar charts the historical encounters between East and West through the very spaces that facilitate cross-cultural transactions, from the medieval to the postmodern. If modern hotel consciousness is marked by transience, ennui, eroticism, and isolation, we ask whether or not the same characteristics held true in pre-modern hotel practices, and if the space of the Orient makes a difference in hotel writing.

ARTH 288

Chinese Export Porcelain/China Trade

This course covers the development and history of Chinese export porcelain made for the European and American markets and its role as a commodity in the China Trade. Students examine Chinese export porcelain from several different perspectives, including art history, material culture, and economic history.

POL 227

East Asian Politics

An investigation of East Asian political systems and the global, historical, and cultural contexts in which their political institutions have developed. Students consider the connections between political structure and the rapid social and economic changes in East Asia since World War II, as well as the effectiveness of varied political processes in addressing contemporary problems. Emphasis is given to China, Korea, and Japan.

EAS 391

Senior Capstone

Weekly seminar in East Asian studies that focuses on research tools and methodology. Students develop and present to the group their capstone proposals. Additional presentations by East Asian Studies faculty and guest speakers.

Meet the Faculty

At W&L, students enjoy small classes and close relationships with professors who educate and nurture.

David Bello
David Bello

David Bello

Director of East Asian Studies; Professor of History

Bello teaches courses in Chinese and Japanese history. His research focuses on Qing China and borderland environmental history. He has published a number of notable scholarly works on the subject.

Hongchu Fu
Hongchu Fu

Hongchu Fu

Professor of Chinese Language and Literature

Fu teaches courses in Chinese language ranging from the elementary to advanced level. He also teaches several courses in literature, such as Evolution of Chinese Fiction. His research pertains to pre-modern Chinese drama.

Wan-Chuan Kao
Wan-Chuan Kao

Wan-Chuan Kao

Associate Professor of English

Professor Kao’s teaching and research interests include medieval literature, especially Chaucer; whiteness studies; critical theory; race and ethnicity; gender and sexuality; queer studies; hotel theory; affect; and cute studies.

Robin LeBlanc
Robin LeBlanc

Robin LeBlanc

Professor of Politics

LeBlanc is a political anthropologist focused on the civic engagement of non-elites in rich democracies. She teaches classes on global politics, urban politics, gender and politics, and political theory.

Timothy Lubin
Timothy Lubin

Timothy Lubin

Jessie Ball DuPont Professor of Religion

Professor Lubin teaches courses on Asian religions and comparative study of religion and law. He researches Hindu religious history, law in ancient Asia, and texts and inscriptions in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Old Javanese and Old Tamil.

Janet Ikeda Yuba
Janet Ikeda Yuba

Janet Ikeda Yuba

Associate Professor of Japanese

Ikeda teaches and researches Japanese language, culture and literature. Ikeda has been involved in U.S.- Japan relations and has been a member of several councils, committees and delegations to promote good relations.

Yanhong Zhu
Yanhong Zhu

Yanhong Zhu

Department Head; Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures

Yanhong Zhu’s research interests include modern Chinese literature and culture, contemporary Chinese cinema, and Chinese language pedagogy. She teaches Chinese language courses at all levels as well as courses on modern Chinese literature and East Asian cinema.

Hongchu Fu
Wan-Chuan Kao
Robin LeBlanc
Timothy Lubin
Janet Ikeda Yuba
Yanhong Zhu
David Bello