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Last modified: Wednesday, April 3, 2013

IU's Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures celebrates 50th anniversary

April 3, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington's Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding with a commemoratory event Thursday.

The celebration, which features guest speakers and talks by alumni, faculty and students, will take place from 3 to 6 p.m. in the President's Room of the Indiana Memorial Union, 900 E. Seventh St.

"We are looking forward to sharing both the history and future of the department with our alumni, distinguished guest speakers and the IU community," said Natsuko Tsujimura, chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures.

The celebration will feature two guest lecturers. Norma Field, an alumna and the Robert S. Ingersoll Distinguished Service Professor Emerita at the University of Chicago, will offer a talk: "From There to Here: Reflections in Medias Res on the Flourishing of East Asia and the Apparent Vanishing of Literature." Joshua Fogel, professor of history at York University, will speak on language and East Asian studies.

Zachary Ziliak, 1994 IU graduate and a former Wells Scholar and Rhodes Scholar, will also speak at the event. The celebration also will include reflections from recent alumni, faculty and current students, including IU Bloomington Chancellor Emeritus Kenneth Gros Louis and Professor Emeritus George Wilson.

Interdisciplinary research and activity in East Asian studies span more than 15 departments and professional schools on the Bloomington campus. More than 150 courses with East Asian content are offered each year, with expertise in modern and contemporary societies, gender and sexuality, language pedagogy, politics, business, social science and education.

In 2012, the department became a core academic unit in IU's new School of Global and International Studies. The school brings together IU's linguistic, cultural, area studies and professional expertise, including its more than 70 foreign language programs, 11 federally funded Title VI area studies, three language flagship programs and two National Language Research Centers.

A major development in the department's Korean studies program came last year in the form of a grant totaling $1.5 million from the Korea Foundation and three Korean IU alumni. The grant will establish the university's first endowed chair in Korean studies.

History and background of East Asian studies at IU

The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures was established in the College of Arts and Sciences in 1962, under the department title East Asian Languages and Literatures. A decade earlier, IU had offered courses in Chinese and Japanese to meet a growing demand spurred by national interest in East Asia that developed as a result of the Second World War.

In 1958, former IU President Herman B Wells established the department's earliest precursor, the Asian Studies Department. A 1961 Ford Foundation grant for international studies of $2.5 million (more than $19 million in 2013 dollars) brought East Asian studies at IU to national prominence. Further support from the Asia Foundation and the Japan Society provided the funding for faculty, fellowships for students and larger library holdings in the field.

In the early 1960s, IU became the first Midwestern university to offer Korean language instruction.

An East Asian Studies Program established in 1970 expanded area studies and complemented the department's offerings in languages and literatures. In 1975, the program and the department merged, forming the current Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures.

In 1979, IU won federal support for a National Resource Center in East Asian studies and established the East Asian Studies Center to administer the program. The center, which has research and outreach activities, coordinates two highly successful outreach programs, the Teaching East Asian Literature in the High School workshop and the National Consortium for Teaching About Asia seminars.

In the 1980s, the department's interaction with Japan increased significantly, and support from the Japan Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education was instrumental in the creation of the former East Asian Summer Language Institute, which offered immersion programs in Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures supports IU's Chinese Language Flagship, a federal initiative that trains students to achieve professional-level language proficiency.