The Asian Studies Concentration at Kenyon is an interdisciplinary program that integrates coursework in anthropology, art history, history, language, music, philosophy, political science, religious studies, and sociology. The program also sponsors films, invites speakers to the College, and promotes other social and cultural events to stimulate campus awareness of the societies of East and Southeast Asia, India and its neighbors, and the Islamic world.
The Asian Studies curriculum encourages students to acquire the analytical and critical ability to explore the linguistic, literary and cultural traditions of Asia and to develop the cultural sensitivity and humanistic knowledge needed in our increasingly globalized world. Students come to understand Asia as a culturally diverse region with deeply intertwined histories and Asian peoples as major actors in regional and world history, rather than as objects of non-Asian peoples' enterprises and observations. An important goal of the concentration is the development of a critical understanding of the ways in which people of the interrelated regions of Asia have historically defined and expressed themselves.
The concentration in Asian studies comprises three elements: (1) at least one year of language study; (2) 1.5 units of coursework in at least two departments other than MLL and representing at least two regions of Asia; and (3) a one-semester senior seminar. The concentration enables students to integrate their studies of the histories, cultures, and societies of Asia in a comparative and interdisciplinary format, through their participation in the senior seminar.
Beginning Asian Studies
Students hoping to spend all or part of their junior year in China or Japan should certainly begin to study the appropriate language in their first two years at Kenyon. New students interested in Asia who have not yet declared a major or a concentration may enroll in any 100 or 200 level course offered by an Asian Studies faculty member, or should consider taking ASIA 201, The Silk Road, which provides an introduction to the entire region.
Concentration Requirements and Curriculum
1. Language study
One year of instruction in a relevant Asian language is required. This requirement can be met by taking two semesters of Modern Chinese (CHNS), Japanese, or Sanskrit at Kenyon. The equivalent of one year of approved college-level Asian language instruction at another accredited academic institution will also meet the requirement, as will some intensive summer programs. With the prior approval of the director of the Asian Studies Concentration, a student may use a semester of intensive language study abroad to fulfill the language requirement. In the case of transfer students, credit will be accepted for a year of Asian language study with a grade of C+ or better pursued at another institution. If the program committee determines that a student possesses native proficiency in an Asian language, it will waive the requirement. The program committee strongly recommends that students continue language study beyond the first year.
2. Area and disciplinary coursework
Students are required to take 1.5 units (three semester courses) about Asia other than language courses. These courses must be from the list of courses offered under Asian studies at Kenyon but may also include relevant courses taken in study-abroad programs. Students must take at least one course representing a region different from that of their language study. For example, students who are primarily focused on East Asia and are studying Chinese or Japanese at Kenyon (or taking Korean abroad or off-campus) must take at least one course focused on South/Southeast Asia or Western/Central Asia (see lists under Requirements for the Joint Major). A course that covers more than one region of Asia--e.g., Asian Art, The Silk Road, or Comparative Asian Politics--will also fulfill this requirement.
Courses not specifically focused on Asia will not be counted toward the concentration. Where any doubt arises, please ask a member of the Asian studies faculty. Double-counting for a student's major and the concentration is permitted.
3. Senior Seminar: Asia in Comparative Perspective
This .5-unit course is required for students fulfilling the requirements for the Asian Studies Concentration and is open to other students on a permission basis. The course will be offered every spring under the direction of a selected Asian studies faculty member and will meet in a seminar format. Topics will vary with the instructor.
Off-campus study in Asia is not required, but it is highly recommended. Students should consult Asian studies faculty members and the director of international education for the numerous opportunities available to Kenyon students to study in Asia for one semester or a year. Summer language-study programs are also available for students who need to prepare for off-campus study or desire to learn an Asian language not offered at Kenyon (e.g., Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Vietnamese).