One of the first liberal arts colleges to establish a department of Chinese in 1965, Connecticut College expanded its unique commitment to the field through the creation of an interdepartmental Asian Studies program in 1970, and again in 1985 with the addition of the department of Japanese. Today Chinese, Japanese and East Asian studies are united under the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures.
The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures provides a global education that crosses disciplines and departments. Cross-cultural by nature, the department takes a transnational and transcultural approach to East Asian Studies, while aligning itself with the College’s core academic values of interdisciplinary study, language study and cultural immersion.
The core of the department emphasizes rigorous language study and equips students with the tools and methodologies required to study East Asia. In addition to the media and culture-focused courses offered by the department, students are encouraged to take affiliated East Asia-related courses throughout the college to contextualize their study with other disciplines including art history, American studies, film, gender and women’s studies, and history. As the center of East Asian Studies on campus, the department facilitates student understanding and synthesis of knowledge through its keystone and capstone courses. The department’s coverage remains dynamic, and future transnational and transcultural courses of study aim to incorporate Asian American studies, environmental studies and Vietnamese studies into its existing curriculum.
East Asian Languages and Cultures faculty are active scholars in various fields. Faculty members have been awarded honors including Connecticut Professor of the Year, by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education; the John S. King Memorial Teaching Award; and Phi Beta Kappa poet of Connecticut College. Faculty research has been supported by fellowships from the Committee on Scholarly Communication with China, the Social Science Research Council, the American Council of Learned Societies, a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The department also has deep roots at the heart the College, and represents the College’s longstanding commitment to integration of the study of East Asia with the liberal arts experience. This commitment is seen in the College’s Chu-Griffis Collection and the Charles Chu Asian Art Reading Room in the Charles E. Shain Library, both named after Professor Emeritus Charles Chu (1918-2008), who helped lay the foundation for the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures of today.