Since the establishment of East Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the early 20th century, both the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilization (formerly known as the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies) and the East Asian Collection in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library have grown steadily. Today the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilization offers a wide range of academic and research programs on the graduate and post-graduate levels, providing academicians and researchers with a multitude of options from which to choose their specializations.
The Center for East Asian Studies, an interdisciplinary unit composed of faculty members whose teaching and research focus is on East Asia, initiates, organizes, and coordinates East Asian Studies course offerings and supports the expansion and enrichment of East Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Faculty research on East Asian Studies includes the humanities and the social sciences with particular strength in pre-modern, modern, and post-modern East Asian civilizations. In the recent years, the East Asian Studies faculty at Penn has shifted from chronology-based compartmentalization to a thematic approach encompassing several historical periods, resulting in chronological integration. In addition, an interdisciplinary academic environment in which two or more distinct academic subjects are taught in combination has emerged. The current East Asian Collection reflects this interdisciplinary and comparative nature of the academic and research direction that is prevalent today.
The East Asian Collection at Van Pelt-Dietrich Library began in 1926 when the Library received a handful of traditional Chinese books from the Chinese government after the U.S. Sesquicentennial Exposition. Since then the collection has grown steadily. At present, the East Asian Collection comprises more than 125,000 monographs, 300 currently received periodicals, and 1,255 microfilms. In addition, the East Asian Collection subscribes to a number of electronic journals and databases in order to meet the current academic needs of the Department of east Asian Languages and Civilizations. While the East Asian Collection on the 5th floor of the VanPelt-Dietrich Library houses monographs and bound journals in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, the Derk Bodde East Asian Seminar Room collects core reference works and a small number of unbound core academic journals. The Current Periodicals Section on the first floor of VanPelt maintains unbound East Asian periodicals of a general nature as well as periodicals on East Asian Studies in European languages. The University Museum Library and the Fisher Fine Arts Library hold a number of East Asian monographs in anthropology, archaeology, and art/architecture.