The Chinese program started in 1964 with the appointment of Chauncey S. Goodrich, who was joined by Kenneth H. Pai 白先勇 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.