The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies is dedicated to the study of the civilizations of China, Japan and Korea in all their richness and diversity. Study focuses not only on East Asia’s increasingly vital role on the world scene, but also on various elements of the region’s long and fascinating history.
The Department offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in three areas: Asian Studies, Chinese, and Japanese. We also offer a special 5-year B.A./M.A. program in each of these areas. All majors include coursework in East Asian cultural studies (involving one or more East Asian country) and studying Chinese or Japanese. In addition, we have an innovative and exciting graduate program in East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies with 5 academic emphases, which combine rigorous language training, innovative research supervision by internationally renowned faculty, and keep awareness of cultural analysis and other methodological tools.
The ability to master the Chinese or Japanese language at a professional level, together with deep cultural knowledge of East Asia allows our graduates to become true global citizens in an increasingly interconnected world. We offer exciting and new perspectives for a deeper understanding of East Asia, both as it is today and throughout its long history, but also precious competences that may open the path for professional careers in the US and abroad.
Alumni of our majors have gone on to pursue successful careers in fields as diverse as software and game design, academia, law, banking, broadcasting, diplomacy, international business, public service, teaching and the arts, in the US and abroad. Indeed, China, Japan, and Korea offer attractive job markets for US graduates with linguistic and cultural competence.
HISTORY OF THE DEPARTMENT
East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies have a long history at UCSB. The Chinese program started in 1964 with the appointment of Chauncey S. Goodrich, who was joined by Kenneth H. Pai in 1965. The Japanese program started with Robert L. Backus in 1966. The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies was established as an independent department in 1994 with the feature, almost unique at the time, to go beyond standard emphasis on languages and literatures and to introduce instead cultural analysis as its core identity and intellectual mission and as a way to approach various aspects of East Asian cultures. As a result, cross-fertilization and interdisciplinary thinking and research became possible within our department–for the benefit of both faculty and students–in a more immediate and integral way than was possible in more traditional academic settings. Our emeriti professors include Allan G. Grapard (Japanese religions, Shinto-Buddhist interactions), Haruko Iwasaki (popular culture in early modern Japan), Bill Powell (Chinese religions), and Ronald Egan (Song literature and aesthetics). The department has grown ever since its establishment. In 2007/08, we added a Ph.D. program to our vibrant B.A. and M.A. programs.
WORDS FROM THE CHAIR
The East Asian region is more and more relevant in international society and culture, and developments there also affect our lives in the US in significant ways. Economic developments, political events, international conflicts and cooperation, and cultural activities receive wide coverage in the international media.
The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies serves as an important hub for research, education, and cultural awareness on East Asian matters at the University of California, Santa Barbara and in the larger Santa Barbara community. Our mission is to make the news more intelligible by providing linguistic, cultural, and historical contexts to current developments, but also to challenge mainstream media coverage by offering our students deeper knowledge and alternative visions of East Asian cultures in the present and in the past. This year, we welcome a new faculty member, professor Corey Byrnes, who joined us this fall to teach courses related to classical Chinese literature and Chinese cultural history. Another new faculty at UCSB, closely related to our field, is Naoki Yamamoto (Department of Film and Media Studies), an expert on Japanese film.