To browse the full list of courses available by academic department, visit Courses of Instruction.


To browse the most up-to-date faculty listing, click here.

2018-2020 CATALOGUE

To browse the 2018-2020 Catalogue online as a PDF, click here.

2016-2018 CATALOGUE

To browse the 2016-2018 Catalogue online as a PDF, click here.

2014-2016 CATALOGUE

To browse the 2014-2016 Catalogue online as a PDF, click here.

Catalgoue Archive


If you have questions or comments about the new online Catalogue, please send us your feedback.



Working closely with other academic departments at Hobart and William Smith, the Department of Asian Studies offers a wide variety of courses that are designed to acquaint its majors and minors with the history, institutions, religions, cultures, and languages of Asia, and to provide a firm foundation for further study. Majors and minors in the department are strongly encouraged to participate in the Colleges’ off-campus programs in China, India, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam. All courses designated ASN are taught in English.

Learning Outcomes
A senior Asian Studies major will be able to demonstrate:

  • A multidisciplinary perspective centered on Asia. 
  • Foundational abilities in one or more Asian languages, including appropriate proficiencies in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. 
  • An understanding of current and historical cultural, social, geographical, and political diversity within Asia. 
  • The ability to plan and carry out scholarly research and give a scholarly presentation on an Asian topic in English.

interdisciplinary, 12 courses 
Four courses in one Asian language. (Students exempted from this requirement by passing a proficiency test permitting them to enter the third year or above of an Asian language must still complete 10 courses including two courses in Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, or Vietnamese at a higher level.)  The departmental introductory course: ASN 101 Trekking Through Asia; at least two core courses on Asia in the social sciences division; at least two core courses on Asia from the humanities division that are not language courses; at least two Asian Studies electives; and the departmental capstone course: ASN 401 Senior Colloquium. All courses must be passed with a grade of C- or higher. Credit/no credit courses cannot be counted towards the major. At least two of the 12 courses must be at the 300 or 400 level.

interdisciplinary, 7 courses 
At least two courses in one Asian language. Students may be exempted from this requirement by passing a proficiency test permitting them to enter the second year or above of an Asian language. Students who take advantage of this exemption still must complete at least five non-language courses in Asian studies for the minor. The departmental introductory course: ASN 101 Trekking Through Asia; at least one social science course on Asia; at least one humanities course on Asia; at least two Asian Studies electives. At least one course on Asia must be at the 300 or 400 level. All courses must be passed with a grade of C- or higher. Credit/no credit courses cannot be counted towards the minor.

A Note on Languages 
At present, the Colleges have fully staffed language instruction in Chinese and Japanese. Vietnamese is offered abroad and on campus, remotely taught from Viet Nam. It is structured in cycles (Vietnamese 101 and 201 in the Fall and Vietnamese 102 and 202 in the Spring) in order to give students the opportunity to study up to four semesters.

Historically, the Colleges have offered Hindi and Korean at various levels, through study abroad programs, distance learning, and other means.  Students wishing to use these less commonly taught languages to fulfill major/minor requirements must consult early with the Department chair.

ASN 101 Trekking through Asia
ASN 103 Introduction to Asian Art
ASN 120 Making of the Samurai
ASN 209 Golden Age Chinese Culture
ASN 210 Buddhism and Taoism through Chinese Literature
ASN 211 Buddhism
ASN 212 Women in Contemporary Chinese Culture
ASN 215 Environment and Development in East Asia
ASN 225 Tibetan Buddhism
ASN 231 Tibetan Mandala Painting
ASN 236 Contemporary China
ASN 242 Riding with Genghis Khan
ASN 268 China Goes Global
ASN 304 Courtesan Culture
ASN 305 Showa through the Silver Screen
ASN 340 Water and Energy in China
ASN 341 Seminar: Chinese Literature in Translation
ASN 342 Seminar: Chinese Cinema
ASN 401 Asia Colloquium
ASN 450 Independent Study
ASN 456 1/2 Credit independent Study
ASN 495 Honors
ASN 499 Internship

Social Sciences
ANTH 206 Early Cities
ANTH 208 Archaeology of Japan and China
ANTH 213 Cultures of India
ANTH 227 Intercultural Communication
ANTH 230 Beyond Monogamy: The Family in Cross-Cultural Perspective
ANTH 298 Modern Japan
ANTH 342/442 Ancient World Systems
ECON 233 Comparative Economic Systems
ECON 344 Economic Development
POL 140 Introduction to Comparative World Politics
POL 180 Introduction to International Relations
POL 213 Politics of China
POL 246 Politics of East Asia
POL 248 Politics of Development
POL 254 Globalization
POL 257 Russia and China Unraveled
POL 281 Politics of South Asia
POL 301 Politics of India
POL 304 Politics of Afghanistan
SOC 240 Gender and Development
SOC 253 World Cities
SOC 291 Society in India
SOC 299 Vietnam: Conflict, Contradiction, and Change

ARTH 103 Introduction to Asian Art 
ARTH 249 Islamic Art and Architecture
ARTH 252 Japanese Art and Culture
ARTH 253 Buddhist Art and Architecture
ARTH 259 Early Chinese Painting 
ARTH 272 Later Chinese Pictures
ARTH 303/403 Gender & Painting in China
ARTH 306/406 Telling Tales: Narrative in Asian Art
ARTH 336/436 Landscapes and Gardens
HIST 107 Trekking through Asia
HIST 120 Making of the Samurai
HIST 202 Japan Since 1868
HIST 242 Riding with Genghis Khan
HIST 305 Showa through the Silver Screen
HIST 320 Asia Pacific Wars
HIST 324 Qing and Tokugawa
HIST 394 Russia and Central Asia
HIST 396 History and the Fate of Socialism: Russia and China
REL 210 Hinduism
REL 211 Buddhism
REL 215 Japanese Religions
REL 219 Introduction to the Islamic Tradition
REL 225 Japanese Philosophy & Religious Thought
REL 226 Religion and Nature
REL 236 Gender and Islam
REL 239 Nihilism East and West
REL 242 Islamic Mysticism
REL 243 Suffering and Salvation
REL 246 Iran before Islam: The History of Religion in Ancient Iran
REL 260 Religion & Philosophy from a Global Perspective
REL 264 South Asian Religions
REL 280 Negotiating Islam
REL 286 Islam and Environment 
REL 304 Buddhist Philosophy
REL 311 The Mahabharata: Religion, Literature, and Ideology
REL 318 Postcolonial Theologies

For course descriptions, see Chinese and Japanese
CHIN 101 Beginning Chinese I
CHIN 102 Beginning Chinese II
CHIN 201 Intermediate Chinese I
CHIN 202 Intermediate Chinese II
CHIN 301 Advanced Chinese I
CHIN 302 Advanced Chinese II
CHIN 450 Independent Study
HIND 101 Beginning Hindi I
JPN 101 Beginning Japanese I
JPN 102 Beginning Japanese II
JPN 201 Intermediate Japanese I
JPN 202 Intermediate Japanese II
JPN 301 Advanced Japanese I
JPN 302 Advanced Japanese II
JPN 450 Independent Study
VIET 101 Beginning Vietnamese I
VIET 102 Beginning Vietnamese II
VIET 201 Intermediate Vietnamese I
VIET 202 Intermediate Vietnamese II

ASN 101 Trekking through Asia Welcome to the "Asian Century." Asia has re-emerged as the center of the world, after a brief hiatus that started in the 18th century.  With histories and religious traditions stretching back three millennia, today as we see cultures across Asia have transformed in ways to meet the demands of our rapidly changing world.  China, Japan, and India are three of the world's top economies.  Asia contains six of the world's ten largest countries, and is home to over half of the world's population and two of the world's major religions, Hinduism and Buddhism.  For decades Asian countries have been leaders in global manufacturing, and Asian universities are now renowned centers for scientific and medical innovation.  Fifty percent of the declared nuclear-weapon states are also in the region.  Simply put, Asia matters a great deal!  In this course, we trek through the Asian past and present, exploring this vast and vibrant region.  Through writings and travelogues that documented the peoples and lands of places stretching from the Sea of Japan to Persia, and from Java to the Mediterranean Sea, we will learn about the cultural systems that helped shape Asian societies.  We will consider how these traditions contributed to and were changed by historical interactions in Asia itself and in relationship to the rest of the world.  Join us on the journey! (Yoshikawa, offered annually)

ASN 103 Introduction to Asian Art This course presents a topical study of the arts and architecture of China, Japan, India, and (to a lesser extent) Korea, with some comparisons to the arts of Central Asia, Europe, and America. We will examine developments in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, architecture, ceramics, prints, and installations, through a series of case studies. Broad topics will include connections between art, politics, philosophy, and religion; text-image relationships; artistic practice, patronage, and collecting; and international art movements in the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition, students will learn to analyze two- and three-dimensional works of art and architecture.  There are no prerequisites, and no previous exposure to the arts of Asia is necessary. (Blanchard, offered annually)

ASN 120 Making of the Samurai Images of samurai are ubiquitous today in movies, computer games, comic books and animations, historical novels , and even advertisements. But who were the samurai in Japanese history, and what did they do? When did they emerge, and where did they stand in society? What did they eat, and how did they go about their day-to-day lives? How were they perceived by their contemporaries, and how did they see themselves? When did today's images of the samurai come about, and how? These are some of the questions we will address in this course, Making of the Samurai. In the process, we will also work on  critical writing, reading, and thinking skills. (Yoshikawa, offered alternate years)

ASN 204 The Making of Modern S Asia This course opens up critical issues of political, economic and social change over a span of two centuries in what is today India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It covers the period beginning with the colonial encounter through to the aftermath of independence and partition in 1947.  Students will analyze the complex interplay between forces of knowledge production, colonial rule and global capitalist transformation. The course will proceed chronologically with emphasis on the following themes:  the emergence and governance practices of the British Empire; the production of religious and social identities; the politics of nationalism and the Nation; the debates over gender and the " women's question;" and the role of violence and communalism in shaping different community relations in the subcontinent.  Students will be expected to actively participate in class discussions, and encouraged to draw connections form this history to present-day events.  The course will conclude by exploring recent debates in South Asian historiography concerning the subject of history and the politics of history-writing.

ASN 209 Golden Age Chinese Culture Although China is known for its long history, it is best known for its golden age during the Tang and Song dynasties (618-1279). These two dynasties witnessed a rapid growth in thought, government structures, literature, art and many aspects of culture. The people of this period, from emperor/empress and aristocratic elite to storytellers and courtesans, contributed to the formation of an urban culture that was the richest in the world. While Europe was still in its dark age, China's golden age established the foundations of much of Asian culture. This course explores Tang and Song contributions to the Chinese cultural heritage. (Huang, offered annually)

ASN 210 Buddhism & Taoism Through Chinese Literature Buddhism and Taoism have long been two important constituent elements of Chinese culture.  Their influences on Chinese elite culture, social ethics, and popular values have inspired the use of such phrases as "The Age of Neo-Taoism" and "The Buddhist Age" to characterize some periods of Chinese history.  Though many Chinese intellectuals were suspicious of and even hostile towards these two religions and sometimes labeled them as "heterodox," they could not deny the fact that the two teachings had become an integral part of Chinese elite and popular culture.  This course is an introduction to the major ideas of Chinese Buddhism and Taoism as they were represented and interpreted in various texts and narratives. (Huang, offered annually)

ASN 211 Buddhism This course covers the rise and historical development of Buddhism in South Asia and its spread into Southeast, Central, and East Asia. Through regular writing exercises, extensive use of visual and audio materials, and some fieldwork, students will acquire a basic vocabulary for discussing the ritual practices, ethical systems, and scriptures of Buddhism (e.g., selections from the Pali Canon); situate the major branches of Buddhism in their historical and geographical contexts (e.g., Theravada in Sri Lanka, Vajrayana in Tibet, Zen in Japan); and explore important concepts in each of the traditions and locations in view of significant sociohistorical processes, events, and institutions (e.g., the interaction of Buddhists with Daoists and Confucians in China and the associations of Shinto practitioners and Buddhists in Japan).  No prior knowledge of Buddhism is required.  (Krummel)

ASN 212 Women in Contemporary Chinese Culture Are Chinese women still submissive, powerless, and silent as commonly perceived? What roles are Chinese women playing in the present-day China and international societies? These are among the oft-asked questions this course attempts to answer. By contextualizing Chinese women in pre-modern China, Republican China, and communist China, this course attempts to show their different characteristics in different periods. Special attention, however, is given to women in social and cultural settings in contemporary China. A variety of works, including history, fiction, and films are used to acquaint students with dramatic changes, multifaceted images, gender problems of Chinese women in the post-Mao era. (Zhou, offered alternate years)

ASN 215 Environment & Development in Eastern Asia Course also listed as ENV 215. Rapid development in East Asia has brought prosperity to many but has also created serious environmental problems. Rivers and lakes suffer from pollution and algal blooms; water tables have dropped dramatically; farmland has been polluted by industrial chemicals and over-fertilization; and cities choke on pollution from industry and automobiles. This course explores the environmental challenges facing East Asia as well as how governments and other groups are addressing them through various approaches to ¿sustainable development. Special emphasis is placed on China, given its regional and global importance, and the Four Little Dragons (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea). (Magee/Lewis, offered annually)

ASN 225 Tibetan Buddhism Course also listed as REL 211. This course is an introduction to Tibetan belief and practice. What is life from a Buddhist perspective? What did the Buddha teach? What is the law of karma? These and many other questions are addressed. The course looks at Tibetan Buddhist practice from the Four Noble Truths to the highest Yoga tantra with special emphasis on the practice of love, kindness, and compassion. A monk¿s life in the monastery is also studied. Prerequisite: Any religious studies course or permission of the instructor. (Yignyen, offered annually)

ASN 231 Tibetan Mandala Painting The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the wonders of Tibetan culture. This is accomplished through the study of traditional Tibetan Buddhist painting and mandala construction. The world of Tibetan Buddhist art is introduced through the emersion in historic background and current utilization. Students learn the accurate methods for drawing the geometric outlines of the mandala. Each student completes a painted version of the Chenrezig mandala (which is most often used in Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice). This includes the formation of the accurate symbols of the five Buddha families. Students become familiarized with these and other emblems and learn their meanings. Using colored sand, students learn how to make a sand painting with authentic Tibetan metal funnels and wooden scrapers. Finally, students participate in the joy of a group class project of sand mandala painting and dismantling ceremony. (Yignyen, offered annually)

ASN 236 Contemporary China This course addresses the momentous social and cultural changes that have occurred in China in recent years. In exploring this subject, Chinese culture is systematically examined from different aspects, including but not limited to Chinese cultural roots, family, population, woman, economy, environment, ideology, politics, religion, and education. Some of China's hottest issues, with which Western societies have been concerned in recent years, are discussed, such as the reform movement, the Tiananmen Square Incident of 1989, censorship, human rights, peasants' protest, HIV, China's rise, China-U.S. relations, and China's future. (Zhou, offered alternate years)

ASN 242 Riding with Genghis Khan Genghis Khan and his descendants rode hard, fought bloody battles, envisioned world conquest, and drank copiously. They also created the largest land empire in the world, ruled over this empire effectively, and fostered cultural exchange across Eurasia at an unprecedented scale.  After its fall, the empire's legacies continued to impact Eurasian history, arguable to this day.  This course explores aspects of this great empire, from its Central Asian nomadic origins to the Mongol predicament after it s fall. Our main focus is Genghis and the Mongol empire. Learn about the awesome Mongol battle strategies, and their administration that led to Pax Mongolica.  Witness the magnificent courts and peoples that Marco Polo, or his reverse counterpart, Rabban Sauma, encountered, as you experience the excitement of their adventures.  Explore how Mongols lived every day, and how they saw the world around them.  Investigate how they adapted to various natural surroundings, and how they interacted with their various human neighbors, most famously the Chinese and the Persians.  Consider why the great Khan remains widely known today, and why so many myths surround him.  Let's ride through history with Genghis. (Yoshikawa, offered alternate years)

ASN 268 China Goes Global China has kept high-speed economic growth for over three decades. Accordingly, China has significantly expanded its international influence. Culturally, China has hosted the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and established over 480 Confucius Institutes worldwide; Educationally, China has become the largest sender of international students to the U.S. making up 31% of all international enrollments in the United States; Economically, China has established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and launched the One Belt One Road project; Militarily, China has steadily modernized its military weapon and opened the first overseas military base in Djibouti in 2017. This course will discuss the implications of China's global expansion to the international community. The focus of this course will be given to how China's economic development affects the landscape of global powers through examining China's relations to its neighboring countries and Western countries especially to the U.S. This course will help students understand the trend of globalization and increase the awareness of new type of great power relations between China and the United States in the twenty-first century. No prerequisites. (Zhou, offered alternate years)

ASN 304 Courtesan Culture Look up the word "courtesan" in a dictionary, say Merriam-Webster's 10th edition, and one finds the following definition: "a prostitute with a courtly, wealthy, or upper-class clientele." Historically, however, the courtesans of China or Japan have been women whose appeal lay primarily in their surpassing musical and literary cultivation, not their sexual services. This multidisciplinary course uses the textual sources and visual representations that record or celebrate courtesan culture to examine the demimonde of the elite Chinese "singing girl" or the Japanese geisha across the centuries, with some attention to Western conceptions or misconceptions of their roles and relationships. (Blanchard, offered occasionally)

ASN 305 Showa Through the SilverScreen Showa (1926-1989), the reign of Hirohito , is most often associated with Japan's plunge into multiple wars, its occupation by a foreign nation, and its economic recovery to become the second largest economy in the world.  Less explored is Showa as the heyday of Japanese cinema.  While motion pictures were first introduced to Japan in the late 19th century, domestic production only took off in the 1920s to the 1930s.  Following the Asia-pacific Wars, Japanese film gained worldwide popularity in the 1950s and 1960s with directors such as  Kurosawa Akira, Ozu Yasujiro, and Mizoguchi Kenji gaining international recognition.  By the end of Showa, Japanese cinema was in decline as other forms of entertainment overshadowed movie-going and a massive recession affected the film industry.  This course explores the history of the Showa period using films as artifacts of Japanese perspectives into their state and society and the Japanese role in the Asia-Pacific region and the world. (Yoshikawa)

ASN 340 Water and Energy in China Course also listed as ENV 340. Water and energy are at the heart of China's environmental challenges, and addressing those challenges (or failing to) has very real human and ecological implications now and in the future. This is so not only for the people of China, the most populous country on Earth, but also for the rest of the world: pollution from China's coal-fired power plants brings acid rain and heavy metals to the Koreas,Japan, and even the western US, and manufactured products (including foodstuffs) tainted with industrial toxins have made their way to store shelves around the world. Yet the roots of many of China's environmental challenges are global: just as more developed countries have outsourced many of their manufacturing activities to China, so, too, have they outsourced the pollution of water, air, soil, and bodies resulting from those activities, along with the energy and other resource demands necessary to carry them out. This course explores the challenges and opportunities of sustainability in China - from ecological, socioeconomic, and geopolitical perspectives - through a close examination of the country's water and energy resources. (Magee)

ASN 341 Chinese Literature in Translation This course introduces Chinese literature in both classical and modern literary traditions. Selected readings consist of translated works that encompass different literary forms and genres. Major foci are on prose, fiction, poetry, drama, and vernacular story/novel. Primary concerns are with the shifting use of literary forms and genres from one dynastic period to another, how scholars and writers in different dynasties would favor and select specific literary forms and genres to reflect on and critique political, social, and cultural issues among other things, and why religious, gender, and social class bias emerged.  Change of intellectual climate, linguistic simplification, as well as literary devices such as simile, metaphor, symbolism, euphemism, and others will be explained and discussed in depth. This course is taught in English. No prerequisite. Open to all students. Upper class Asian Studies majors/minors are highly recommended to take the course. (Huang)

ASN 342 Seminar Chinese Cinema This course is designed to examine the development of Chinese cinema. It introduces the fifth and sixth generation of Chinese filmmakers, as well as recent Chinese films produced in Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the United States. It is hoped to help students develop their ability to analyze visual images from both Chinese and multicultural perspectives. Through the lens of Chinese films used in this course, students are expected to better understand issues such as gender, family, tradition, custom, and politics in China today. In the meantime, they are expected to become familiar with some new trend of cultural and social movement in China and overseas Chinese communities. (Zhou, offered annually)

ASN 401 Asia Colloquium The topic of the Asian Studies senior colloquium changes every year.  Please consult with your Asian Studies major adviser.  (Staff, offered annually)

ASN 450 Independent Study

ASN 456 1/2 Credit Independent Study

ASN 495 Honors

ASN 499 Internship

Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.