The Major in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
The Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Major replaces the Asian Studies Major in the Program in Asian Studies and the Middle East Studies Major in the Middle East Studies Program. The Asian and Middle Eastern Studies major is an interdisciplinary major featuring a core of language work and additional coursework in one of three regional concentrations: East Asia, the Middle East, or South Asia. Not all concentration courses must be from within AMELC. For instance, a course on Islam in Religious Studies would count towards a concentration in the Middle East or South Asia regions. Current lists of possible concentration courses are in this Record and on the AMELC website. Students are also encouraged to take AMELC and related courses outside their geographical region of concentration.
Requirements for the Major in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
- Grade of C or better in AMEL 101;
- Proficiency at the 202/206 level or above in Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Persian, Sanskrit, Tibetan, or Urdu.
- 30 credits in AMELC and related courses, including courses in selected regional concentration, with the following distribution:
- 9 credits, not necessarily in the regional concentration, from related courses or from AMELC courses at the 300 level or higher; students whose regional concentration is East Asia must take EAST 492; students whose regional concentration is the Middle East must take MEST 496; students whose regional concentration is South Asia must take AMEL 493 or 494.
- 21 credits in one of three regional concentrations: East Asia, Middle East, or South Asia; see the AMELC website for current listings; 9 of those 21 credits must be in regional concentration courses from 3 of the following 6 departments: AMELC (at the 300 level or higher), Anthropology, Art History, Government and Foreign Affairs, History, Religious Studies. (It is strongly recommended that History be one of the three.)
- double majoring is encouraged, but students are reminded that 18 credits in each major must come from courses unique to that major;
- students are reminded that USEM credits do not count toward major requirements;
- a maximum of 12 study abroad and domestic transfer credits are allowed, at the discretion of the Undergraduate Committee.
- Students in this major must maintain a satisfactory grade point in major and related courses each semester. Satisfactory is defined as an average of C (i.e., 2.0). Students not maintaining this grade point are subject to discontinuation from the major.
- Advisors for this major are Ellen Fuller (East Asia), Daniel Lefkowitz (Middle East), and Griffith Chaussée (South Asia).
Requirements for the Minor in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
- 102/106-level in an AMELC language. A grade of C or higher must be earned each semester in 101-102, or the grade in 106 must be C or higher;
- at least 18 credits in one of the three regional concentrations (East Asia, Middle East, or South Asia). Language courses beyond the 102/106-level may be counted for this. Of those 18 credits:
- a minimum of 9 credits must be from concentration courses in AMELC or any other department;
- at least 3 credits must come from a non-language course in AMELC; and
- no more than 9 credits may be from any one department outside AMELC.
The advisors for this minor are the same as for the major. Students wishing to declare this for their minor course of study must see the appropriate advisor.
The Major in Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures
The Department offers a major in Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures for students wanting to achieve proficiency in an AMELC language and a deeper understanding of its literature and culture. The core of this major is a high level of competency in the language and a more focused set of concentration courses.
Requirements for the Major in Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures
- 202/206 level of an AMELC language. A grade of C or higher must be earned in each semester of 201-202 or 106-206.
- 2 three-credit non-language courses in AMELC or one such course in AMELC and one course in History or in Religious Studies. One of the AMELC courses must be AMEL 101. The course in History must have the mnemonic HIEA, HIME, or HISA, and the course in Religious Studies must be RELG 104, or it must have the mnemonic RELB, RELH, or RELI. Each of these two courses must be passed with a grade of C or better.
- 30 credits in AMELC and related courses, of which
- 18 credits must be in one AMELC language, or, at the discretion of the student’s advisor, 12 in one and at least 6 in a second language in the same region; Tibetan may be used as a second language in the East Asian or South Asian region. Biblical Hebrew may be used as a second language in the Middle East region. The 12 credits for the first language must be beyond the 202/206 level. The 6 credits for the second language may come from 100-level courses.
- 12 credits of the 30 must be in AMELC and related courses, of which
- 6 credits must be in regional concentration courses from 2 of the following 6 areas: AMELC (at the 300 level or higher), Anthropology, Art History, Politics, History, and Religious Studies (see the AMELC website for current listings); and
- 6 credits are to be determined in consultation with the student’s advisor. These courses may be further AMELC language study or non-language, regional concentration courses in AMELC.
- a maximum of 15 study abroad credits and domestic transfer credits are allowed at the discretion of the Undergraduate Committee.
It is crucial that language training begin early in the student’s career. Summer study and study abroad are also encouraged. (See the Study Abroad Programs section below.)
Students in this major must maintain a satisfactory grade point in major and related courses each semester. Satisfactory is defined as an average of C (i.e., 2.0). Students not maintaining this grade point are subject to discontinuation from the major.
Students should check with their advisors concerning the current availability of this major in the language or languages of their interest. Those advisors are:
Chinese - Miao-fen Tseng
Japanese - Michiko Wilson
Arabic - Mohammed Sawaie
Hebrew - Daniel Lefkowitz
Persian - Zjaleh Hajibashi
Hindi - Griffith Chaussée
Sanskrit - Robert A. Hueckstedt
Urdu - Griffith Chaussée
The Distinguished Majors Program
AMELC offers a Distinguished Majors Program for qualified majors in order to provide the opportunity to pursue in-depth analysis of issues and topics related to the major.
To qualify, students must meet the general requirements of their AMELC major with the following modifications. They must take 12 credits of concentration courses at the 400 level or above, including AMEL 497, a six-credit sequence of tutorial work on a senior thesis to be completed over the fall and spring semesters of the fourth year. Students are responsible for obtaining the agreement of a faculty member to serve as thesis advisor and a second faculty member from a different department to serve as second reader. Students are encouraged to use primary language sources in researching their theses.
Admission into the DMP occurs in the spring semester of the third year. Applicants must be in either the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Major or the Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures Major, with major and general GPAs of at least 3.400. Applications must be submitted by the second Monday after spring break of the student’s third year, and should include the following: (1) a statement of interest explaining the student’s desire to enter the program and his or her general area of research interest; (2) a letter of recommendation from a faculty member in the student’s concentration, either sent directly to the AMELC Chair or sealed and submitted by the student with other materials; and (3) a copy of the student’s most recent transcript. Decisions concerning admission to the DMP are made by early April.
Commencement honors of Distinction, High Distinction and Highest Distinction require a minimum GPA of 3.400 as well as timely completion of the senior thesis. Honors are awarded by the Departmental Council on the basis of overall academic performance as well as at the recommendation of the first and second readers of the thesis.
Faculty The AMELC faculty consists of approximately twenty full and part-time scholars and teachers with national and international reputations—in cultural studies, linguistics, literary criticism, philology, and translation—who are fully committed to effective language teaching and to the literatures and cultures of Asia and the Middle East. While other language programs usually use graduate students to teach beginning and intermediate level language classes, AMELC uses for that purpose specially hired and trained lecturers, who are often native speakers or have near-native fluency. Class size is restricted, and faculty make a special effort to be available to students outside of class.
Students Every semester 700 to 800 students study in AMELC’s courses, which usually number between 40 and 50. The majority of AMELC’s courses involve language study, so the enrollment is purposely kept low. Other courses taught in English usually satisfy the Non-Western Perspectives Requirement and the Humanities Requirement. Some of those courses also satisfy the Second Writing Requirement and are therefore restricted to thirty students or fewer. Approximately 1400 students study in Asian and Middle Eastern courses in other departments.
Students of Asia and the Middle East go on to graduate or professional schools, to work in governmental agencies, journalism, art, international banking and business, communications, or the Peace Corps, or they teach in Asia or the Middle East. The possibilities are almost infinite.
Study Abroad Programs
University of Virginia-Yarmouk University Summer Arabic Program AMELC administers a summer Arabic program at Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan, which provides an opportunity to study Arabic intensively at the intermediate and advanced levels. The program occasionally receives grants from which it can offer fellowships. Additional information can be found at www.virginia.edu/arabic/yarmuk_program.htm.
Kyoto Center for Japanese Studies The University of Virginia joins Harvard, Stanford, and about a dozen other top universities in running the Kyoto Center for Japanese Studies, a well-regarded study abroad program based in Japan’s historic capital city. The consortium arrangement entitles the university to select two to four undergraduate students each year to participate for one semester or a full academic year. The program requires students to have two full years of college-level Japanese language coursework as a prerequisite, and it works to improve students’ language abilities through small-group instruction tailored to each students ability level. A few courses are taught in Japanese, but most of the courses (on Japanese politics, foreign relations, society, and culture) are taught in English.
The KCJS program, unlike some other study abroad programs in Japan, facilitates daily use of the language outside the classroom by placing all students who want to take advantage of this opportunity with host families. The deadline for applying for admission to the KCJS is January 15 on the local level. Additional information on the program can be found at: kcjs.stanford.edu.
UVa China Gateway Program is specially designed by UVa faculty to complement the University curriculum. This program will allow students to earn UVa credit and grades, not simply transfer credit. Participants will take an interdisciplinary study of Chinese language, history/society, and culture that will utilize local guest speakers and field trips. A member of the UVa faculty will accompany the group and will integrate resources from the community and country into the course syllabi with three elements—language, history/society, and culture—followed by twelve days of travel to Beijing, Xi’an and Chengdu The program is ideal for students who have never before traveled to China.
Scheduled in this program is a trip to Shanghai, one of the most cosmopolitan and exciting cities in Asia, for six weeks of classroom study at East China Normal University and field trips in and around Shanghai. This is followed with 12 days of travel, first to the capital Beijing, to visit, among other sites, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. Then we travel to the ancient city of Xi’an, home of Emperor Huang Di’s terracotta army and the tomb of Empress Wu. Interested students should contact the East Asia Center.
In addition to study abroad programs administered by UVa, students are encouraged to develop their language skills at the many other study-abroad programs that are available throughout Asia and the Middle East. Faculty are happy to advise students concerning appropriate programs, and program descriptions and advice are also available from the International Studies Office in Minor Hall. Students are particularly encouraged to participate in such programs so that they can experience first hand the languages in their surrounding cultures.
At the discretion of the Departmental Council, a maximum of 12 study abroad and domestic transfer credits is allowed for the Studies Major and a maximum of 15 for the Languages and Literatures Major. No study abroad or domestic transfer credits are allowed for the Studies Minor.
East Asia Center Scholarship A generous endowment from the Weedon family allows the East Asia Center to award travel grants to undergraduates enrolled in language programs in East Asia as well as research travel grants to graduate students and faculty. Applications are due in mid-February.Mastercard Asian Studies Scholarship
This scholarship is awarded annually to a rising fourth-year major in Asian Studies, be it in the East Asian concentration or the South Asian. To be competitive, students applying for this scholarship should also be applying for the Distinguished Majors Program. This scholarship is in the amount of approximately $4000 for tuition, and it carries with it the possibility to apply for a paid summer internship with Mastercard. Unless we are informed otherwise, we assume that all applicants for the DMP are also applying for this scholarship. Therefore, no specific application is required.
Centers and Programs
Arts and Sciences Center for Instructional Technology (ASCIT) A resource containing many audio-visual materials which are used to help bring the culture surrounding our different languages alive for students. It is conveniently located in Cabell Hall along with most AMELC classrooms and offices. The language laboratory is used to help students practice and reinforce their speaking and listening skills.
East Asia Center For more than twenty years the East Asia Center has promoted activities and events that enhance the study of East Asia and Southeast Asia at the University of Virginia. The Center sponsors ten to fifteen lectures and other events each year. It also manages graduate programs granting an MA in Asian Studies as well as an MA/MBA in Asian Studies in conjunction with the Darden Business School.
Center for South Asian Studies The Center for South Asian Studies is an interdisciplinary center that coordinates the study of South Asia-Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet. It sponsors a regular weekly seminar program as well as other activities.
Middle East Studies Program Like the East Asia and South Asia Centers, the Middle East Studies Program is an association of faculty who share a regional interest. The Middle East Program sponsors lectures and other activities, and until recently it administered the undergraduate degree program in Middle East Studies.
Center for Jewish Studies Jewish Studies is an interdisciplinary program that introduces students to the history, languages, and literature of the Jewish people; to the beliefs and practices of Judaism; and to the contributions of Jewish wisdom to human civilization.
Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Culture
Note: AMEL & AMTR courses are taught in English.
Note: ARTR courses are taught in English.
Note: CHTR courses are taught in English.
Note: JPTR courses are taught in English.
Language House Conversation
List of possible courses to be taken for credit in the Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures degree programs. See Course Offering Directory for current course offerings.
Note: Prior approval from your major advisor should be received to insure that a course listed here or on the AMELC website counts for major credit.