The Department of Asian Studies is Cornell's primary locus for the study of Asian humanities, a home for teaching and research on the languages, literatures, religions, and cultural histories of three broad Asian areas - East, South, and Southeast. Housed in more than one department in most universities, the gathering of the three areas in Cornell's department has long fostered in its members an interest in trans-regional Asian Studies, and increasingly, alternative trans-regionalities: the examination of social, political, and cultural formations that transcend traditional national and areal boundaries. Our department includes a team of first-class language pedagogues united with professorial faculty whose research agendas are grounded in both pre-modern and contemporary materials. Together, we provide students across the university with training in nineteen Asian languages and courses on Asian humanities at all levels, while our majors and minors are able to develop the language skills needed to pursue their focal interests in depth.
Most members of our professorial faculty share concerns about the ways in which premodern histories provide the empirical foundation for critical perspectives on modern forms of life, with their interests intersecting in a number of different areas. These include literary histories, reading cultures, translation, and media; intellectual and cultural histories, aesthetic modernities, and visual studies; and the dynamics of religious traditions, past and present. Through the Asian Literature, Religion, and Culture Ph.D. field and the Asian Studies M.A. field, our faculty recruit and train graduate students working in these areas. Members of our department also formally and informally support graduate students with similar interests in other humanistic and social-scientific fields at Cornell and beyond.
Through research publications, authorship of language learning materials, national and international lectures, video-conferenced language instruction, grant review, leadership on editorial boards, and more, our faculty reach far beyond the Ithaca campus. In our research and teaching, the Department of Asian Studies is a global leader in Asian language instruction, covers more than three thousand years of history, and engages with a region that is currently home to more than half the world's population - people with whom we are ever increasingly connected.