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East Asian Studies

Brian Vivier, Chinese Studies Librarian
(215) 898 3412
Molly Des Jardin, Japanese Studies Bibliographer
(215) 898 3205


Chinese Studies

Chinese studies is offered by various schools and departments of Penn. The Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (formerly known as the Department of Oriental Studies) has a long and strong tradition in the study of pre-modern Chinese civilization with concentrations on language, literature, archaeology, history, and religion. Other Penn departments and schools which are involved in Chinese studies and are more specialized in the modern period include those of History, Political Sciences, Sociology, Anthropology, History and Sociology of Science, Business, and Law. Courses of Chinese languages (including Mandarin and several local dialects) are offered by the AMES department and Penn Language Center. Since 1995, the newly founded Center for East Asian Studies has been playing a cooperative role in Chinese studies at Penn.

Japanese/Korean Studies

Since the establishment of Japanese Studies at the University of Pennsylvania in 1952, both the Japanese Studies Division within the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Department and the Japanese Collection in the VanPelt Library have grown steadily. Today the Japanese Studies Division at AMES 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 Japanese Studies course offerings and supports the expansion and enrichment of Japanese Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Faculty research on Japanese Studies includes the humanities and the social sciences with particular strength in Buddhism, contemporary sociology of medicine/bioethics, Japanese civilization, Japanese literature, political and diplomatic history, history and philosophy of martial arts, performing arts, pre-modern Japanese architecture and archaeology, political and d plomatic history, medieval studies, Tokugawa studies, and women's studies. In the recent years, the Japanese 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. For example, the teaching of Japanese literature blends with women's studies; Japanese art and architecture dovetails with archaeology; and the study of Buddhism compounds holistically with cultural, philosophical, and sociological issues in terms of Japanese civilization. This interdisciplinary environment is simultaneously comparative, though the range of comparison is limited geographically to Asia: that is, the majority of Japanese Studies courses are taught in comparison with both Korean and Chinese elements. The current Japanese Collection reflects the interdisciplinary and comparative nature of the academic and research direction that is prevalent today.

Japanese Studies permeates other academic programs offered by such departments as History, Economics, History of Art, History and Sociology of Science, Political Science, Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology. Researchers associated with the University Museum focus on Japanese archaeology and early civilization; scholars at the Wharton School concentrate on Japanese economics, finance, and commerce; and students at the Lauder Institute endeavor to earn a joint MBA/MA degree in Management and International Studies with a concentration on Japan.

Prior to the academic year 2000-2001, the Korean Collection at the VanPelt Library of the University of Pennsylvania consisted primarily of gifts. The development of the Korean collection began officially in October, 2000 when Dr. Milan Hejtmenick arrived at Penn to resume his professorial position in the Department of History. The Department of History maintains close interdepartmental relations with the Center for East Asian Studies, an interdisciplinary unit within the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Department. An integral part of the Center for East Asian Studies, the Korean Studies unit is in its developmental stage under the leadership of Dr. Hejtmenick. At present the Korean Studies unit offers a limited number of undergraduate and graduate courses in Medieval, Modern, and Post-modern Korean History as well as Korean Art History.


Chinese Studies

The history of the Chinese Collection at Van Pelt Library can be traced back to 1926 when the Chinese government left behind a small number of traditional Chinese books to Penn after the U.S. Sesquicentennial Exposition. Since then the collection has been built up gradually over the years. As of June 2001, Van Pelt Library has 119,186 monographs, 1,255 microfilms, and 67 currently received periodicals in Chinese. In addition to printed materials, the library also subscribes to a number of electronic journals and databases with relevance to Chinese Studies.

Chinese Studies is served by several components in the library. The majority of Chinese books and bound journals is housed in the East Asian Collection, which also contains Japanese and Korean publications, on the fifth floor of the library. The Derk Bodde East Asian Seminar Room collects a number of reference materials as well as current issues of some academic journals published in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, which are of particular interest to the Chinese Studies community of Penn. Other unbound Chinese journals are located in the Current Periodicals Section. In addition to Van Pelt Library, some other branches of Penn library system, especially the University Museum Library and Fisher Fine Arts Library, have extensive holdings in Chinese language.

The development of the Chinese Collection in the past was almost exclusively focused on the pre-modern aspect of Chinese civilization. In the most recent decade as studies of modern China at Penn has been growing fast, significant effort has been made to improve the collection of materials dealing with modern topics. This trend will continue in the future, while the collection's traditional strength in pre-modern Chinese Studies will be maintained.

Japanese/Korean Studies

A. Selection

The first priority of the Japanese and Korean Collections is to acquire the current core materials of the highest academic quality in support of Penn's academic programs with special emphasis on reference works including bibliographies and indexes as well as essential academic journals. The Japanese collection includes the following subject areas: anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture, Buddhism, folklore, diplomatic history, economics, modern Japanese history (1868-present), literature, philosophy and religion, political science, popular culture, and women's studies. The Japanese Collection also acquires works in Japanese about selected aspects of China and Korea in a carefully targeted way. For certain subject areas, a concurrent acquisition of fullfledged criticism of specific works and corresponding introductory materials applies.

At present the Korean collection includes a large number of standard core reference materials published after 1990, ranging from anthropology, Buddhism, general history, literature, religion, to philosophy as well as a number of multivolume sets in Korean History to support Penn's ongoing programs in Korean Studies. The Korean Collection mirrors the latest history-centered Korean studies curriculum. The extent of the Library's Korean collection development will parallel and reflect the growth of the Korean Studies in the Center for East Asian Studies. The expansion of the current Korean Studies curriculum will target the academic subject areas for the Korean collection in the future. Both the Japanese and Korean collections build on a highly subject-specific academic functionality.

Recommendations and requests from faculty members and students are given serious consideration. Materials bearing direct relevance to the academic programs and research receive the highest priority in purchasing. Each title must meet the following selection criteria: 1) the title is essential to the curricular mission and needs of the Japanese Studies and Korean Studies faculty; and 2) the title contributes to current collection balance in a subject area. At present the Japanese Collection holds 56,972 volumes of monographs and subscribes to 179 journals, and the Korean collection 2,980 volumes of monographs and 18 journals.

In addition to the Japanese and Korean Collections at the VanPelt Library, a number of branch libraries within the University Library system maintains materials on Japan and Korea in European, Japanese, and Korean languages--most notable of which are the University Museum Library and the Fisher Fine Arts Library. These materials are mostly gifts, or they are of highly technical nature requested seldom by faculty members.

B. Responsibility for Collection Development

The University's Japanese Studies and Korean Studies faculty set the direction of the Japanese and Korean Collections. Working on the advice of faculty members, the Japanese Studies Librarian takes charge of both the Japanese Studies collection development and the Korean Studies collection development. In order to initiate and sustain the Korean collection with the highest academic quality and well focused subject range, the Library has established an interlibrary collaboration with the Korean Unit in Columbia University's East Asian Library . The Japanese Studies Librarian reviews the recommendations of this interlibrary collaboration to select and manage Korean materials. Faculty and student recommendations and requests are a necessary part of the selection process. The Japanese Studies Librarian balances and coordinates the collections as a whole. The decision to acquire or not to acquire materials rests solely with the Library.

C. Location

Both the Japanese and Korean Collections on the 5th floor of the VanPelt-Dietrich Library Center house monographs and bound journals in 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 Japanese and Korean periodicals of a general nature as well as periodicals on Japanese Studies and Korean Studies in European languages. The University Museum Library and the Fisher Fine Arts Library hold a number of Japanese and Korean monographs in anthropology, archaeology, and art/architecture.


Chinese Studies

There are four priorities in the development of the Chinese Collection. They are: 1) to acquire primary materials for Chinese Studies, such as newly punctuated, collated, and annotated works in classical Chinese, reports of archaeological excavations and anthropological surveys, translations of the classical works of ethnic minorities living in today's China, photo-reprinted archives of local authorities in late imperial and republic China, and official and legal documents published by the Chinese government; 2) to acquire high-quality secondary studies and academic journals in the fields of Chinese literature, language, history, religion, archaeology, folklore, art history, society, ethnic and international relations, law, traditional sciences and technology, and Dunhuang and Turfan studies; 3) to collect important reference materials such as bibliographies of scholarly works in various fields and different languages, indexes to classical Chinese texts, encyclopedias, dictionaries, maps, etc; and 4) to acquire and gain access to important electronic resources for Chinese Studies.

A. Chronology

From antiquity to the present. With special emphases on the pre-Qin (before 3rd century BCE), medieval (3rd-10th centuries CE), late imperial (1644-1912), and contemporary (1949-) periods.

B. Formats

Chiefly books and journals, some newspapers, microfilms, and electronic.

C. Geography

China in the broadest sense (including China proper, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, and Xinjiang).

D. Languages

Chiefly Chinese, some bi-lingual works such as language dictionaries and western translations of traditional Chinese texts.

E. Publication Dates

Current publications, including reprints of early Chinese works.

Japanese/Korean Studies

A. Chronology

Both the Japanese Collection and the Korean Collection are chronologically inclusive.

B. Formats

Both the Japanese Collection and the Korean Collection acquire the highest level of academic core materials. Currently these materials are categorized as: monographs, journals, and electronic resources. Both collections will acquire reference tools in electronic format (such as CD-ROM, database, or licensed websites) if its access to information is superior to traditional media and if it is an integral part of the current scholarly need.

C. Geography

Concurring with the interdisciplinary and comparative nature of the current pedagogical/research approach to the Japanese Studies at Penn, the Japanese Collection targets three geographical areas: Japan, Korea, and China.

D. Languages

The Japanese Collection specializes in Japanese-language materials, and the Korean Collection in Korean-language materials. Works in European languages on Japanese Studies and Korean Studies are generally selected by bibliographers for those language areas in consultation with the Japanese Studies Librarian.

E. Publication Dates

The Japanese Collection focuses primarily on current publications with some retrospective collecting in the areas of Japanese literature, political and diplomatic history, and Japanese art and architecture; while the Korean Collection concentrates almost exclusively on materials published after 1990.


Chinese Studies

The collection acquires most materials from the following sources: Mans Book Company, Hong Kong; Joint Publishing Company, Hong Kong; Shanghai Book Traders, Shanghai; China National Publishing Industry Trading Corporation, Beijing; Lexis Books, Taiwan; China Post, Taiwan; and China Classics, California.

Japanese/Korean Studies

The Japanese Collection selects most materials from publishers catalogs, most representative of which are: Japan Publications Trading Company, Tokyo; Isseido, Tokyo; and Bunsei Shoin, Tokyo. In addition, titles are selected from bibliographies and journal articles; and they are ordered from the vendors listed above.

The Korean Collection resorts to the recommendations of the Penn-Columbia interlibrary collaboration as well as faculty input to select materials. Two major vendors of Korean materials are: Punmam Publishing and Kyobo Book Center in Seoul, Korea.


Subject Collected Levels of Collecting
Chinese Language Materials
Anthropology 1/1/3
Archaeology 4/4
Art/Architecture 3/3/4
Buddhism 4/4
Confucianism 4/4
Diplomatic History 1/1/3
Economic History 2/2
Economics (Modern) 2/2
Folklore 2/2/3
History, Pre-modern 4/4
History, 20th century 3/3/4
Literature, Pre-modern 4/4
Literature, 20th century 2/2/3
Philosophy, Pre-modern 3/3/4
Philosophy, Modern 2/2/3
Political Science 1/1/3
Sociology 1/1/3
Taoism 3/3/4
Traditional Medicine 2/2/4
Women's Studies 2/2/4
Japanese Language Materials
Anthropology 1/1/2
Archaeology 2/2/3
Art/Architecture 2/2/3
Buddhism 4/4
Diplomatic History 3/3/4
Japanese Folklore 2/2
Japanese History: Pre-modern 3/3/4
Japanese History: 1868-present 2/2/4
Japanese Literature: Pre-modern 4/4
Japanese Literature: 20th Century 4/4
Japanese Philosophy: Pre-modern 3/3
Japanese Philosophy: 1869-present 1/1/3
Japanese Popular Culture 1/1/3
Japanese Theater 2/2/4
Martial Arts 1/1/3
Performing Arts: Pre-modern 1/1/3
Performing Arts: Modern 1/1/3
Performing Arts: 1945-present 1/1/3
Political Science 2/2/3
Shintoism 3/3
Sociology 2/2
Sociology of Medicine/Bioethics 1/1/4
Traditional Medicine 2/2
Women's Studies 3/3/4
Korean Language Materials
Art/Architecture 1/1/4
Korean History: Pre-modern 1/1/4
Korean History: 20th century 1/1/4
Korean Literature: Pre-modern / /
Korean Literature: 20th century / /
Korean Philosophy: Pre-modern / /
Korean Philosophy: 20th centur/td> / /


Chinese Studies

Modern popular and children's literature, traveler's guides, modern art, translations of Western literature, textbooks, and works on science in general, with exceptions in each case.

Japanese/Korean Studies

The following categories of materials are excluded from both the Japanese Collection and the Korean Collection: ephemeral works, gray literature, textbooks except for some language readers, translations of Western literature into Japanese and Korean, and works on science in general.


Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Studies

In order to supplement the holdings at Penn, faculty and students are encouraged to utilize a number of Chinese Studies, Japanese Studies, and Korean Studies resources located in the middle Atlantic regions. Columbia University in New York, for example, offers extensive law and pre-modern history collections. Princeton University holds a large number of Chinese and Japanese academic journals that are commercially unavailable both in the Humanities and in the Social Sciences. The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., accessible within a day's commuting distance, offers the largest collection on East Asian Studies.