Fields of Study
Applicants to the graduate program are required to select one of the following fields at the time of their application. This choice reflects their primary field of interest, but is not meant to be constricting. Department faculty strive to be inter-disciplinary, and graduate students are similarly encouraged to study and research across geographic, disciplinary, and methodological boundaries.
The Chinese History program at Columbia supports graduate study spanning the breadth of historical time and beyond, from Bronze-Age settlement formation to Modern Chinese cultural and legal history. The program’s faculty retain particular expertise in Early China, the Five Dynasties and Song periods, late-imperial China, and modern China. Interested students are also able to engage in the study of Chinese Archaeology in conjunction with affiliated departments and centers at Columbia University. University Seminars in Early and Modern China ensure active forums for scholarly engagement, while the program’s faculty and graduate students contribute their own expertise to a variety of centers, events, and departments well beyond EALAC.
Students of Chinese Literary and Cultural Studies pursue study and scholarship into the textual traditions across modern and pre-modern Chinese literature, history, film, visual culture, and media. Faculty expertise runs the gamut from pre-modern book history and drama to contemporary translation theory, documentary film, and popular culture. Graduate students are encouraged to engage in comparative and interdisciplinary studies, drawing on the contributions of visual culture, gender studies, cultural history, and comparative literature, among others.
The East Asian Religion field provides extensive training in the cultural, linguistic, and textual traditions relevant to each student’s area of interest, as well as a firm methodological grounding in the study of religion. The Department’s core and affiliated faculty exhibit particular strengths in Japanese Buddhism, Shinto and Japanese Religions, and Chinese Buddhism and Daoism. The Center for Buddhism and East Asian Religions supports faculty and student scholarship on campus through workshops, symposia, and guest lectures.
The Department supports the study of Japanese history across all historical time periods. Faculty expertise includes the history of early Japanese writing systems, the gender and cultural history of early-modern and modern Japan, nineteenth-century history, and the intersection of empire, expansion, war, and memory in modern Japanese history. Graduate students in Japanese history are part of the History-East Asia program, and prospective students may apply either through EALAC or the Department of History.
EALAC produced a transformative generation of Japanese literature scholars in the immediate postwar years, and the department continues this tradition of outstanding scholarship in modern and pre-modern literary studies, as we well as in film, visual, and cultural studies. The program is also well-known and well-regarded for its commitment to instruction in the various scripts and styles of the Japanese language, including classical Japanese, kanbun, and calligraphic script. Graduate students consistently study culture, media, history, and religion within and beyond the department, often involving research across multiple countries in Asia.
Graduate students pursuing Korean studies may choose either Korean History or Korean Literature as their field of specialization. Department expertise includes the intersection of modern Korean and international history, the early-modern cultural history of the Korean peninsula, and modern Korean literature and visual culture. A core partnership with The Center for Korean Research enriches the study of Korea at Columbia University and sponsors the research of the faculty and graduate student community alike. Additionally, the program’s location in New York City offers students access to an array of Korea-related cultural events, while the city hosts the nation’s second-largest Korean-American community.
The Tibetan Studies program at EALAC covers the seventeenth through twenty-first centuries, and is the first teaching program in the Anglophone world to focus on modern Tibet. Faculty and graduate students advance research in Tibetan history, culture, religion, and politics, including the history of China-Tibetan relations. Language training includes offerings in modern and classical Tibetan, and all students benefit from the extensive Tibetan holdings of the C.V. Starr East Asian Library. Faculty and students alike also benefit from residing in New York City, home to the largest Tibetan community outside Asia.
The newly established program in Vietnamese Studies makes EALAC one of the only departments worldwide to comprise all major East Asian cultures. Department expertise includes the history of language, script, and literary expression in Vietnam from ancient to early-modern times, as well as modern diplomatic and military history with special emphasis on U.S.-Vietnam relations in the Vietnamese theater of the cold war. EALAC is also one of the only departments outside of Vietnam that offers expertise on Sino-Vietnamese literature, as well as training in the vernacular script known as Chữ Nôm. Graduate students are encouraged to approach the study of Vietnam from a cosmopolitan and interdisciplinary perspective, contextualizing work on the cultural, aesthetic, linguistic, literary, diplomatic or military history of Vietnam within a broader framework of East and Southeast Asia.