The Department of Asian Languages and Literatures is committed to the interdisciplinary study of three culturally rich areas of the world: East Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East. Our graduates gain a global perspective giving them the conceptual tools to influence the world. Students come to us with an intellectual curiosity about the non-Western world. They leave with a deeper understanding of the languages, social issues, geopolitical histories, and cultural texts of diverse countries and regions.
Prominent art collector Mary Griggs Burke amassed an extraordinary collection of Japanese art, which is now on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. When ALL Chair Christine Marran accompanied her colleague Professor Maki Isaka’s class to view the collection at Mia in spring 2017, little did she know that a few months later, Mrs. Burke’s name would become a symbol of generosity and advancement for the ALL department.
The University of Minnesota has been an active participant in the Big Ten Academic Alliance CourseShare program since it launched in 2006. Our institution was an early adopter, sending an Old Norse course to Michigan that first academic year. However, in recent years we have become primarily a receiver of language courses taught by other Big Ten institutions.
For some, comedy film is more than just something to watch with friends on a Friday night. Soo Hyun Lee and Hui Liu are PhD candidates in the Asian Literatures, Cultures, and Media program studying East Asian comedy cinema. They both cite their gratitude for the world-class ALL department. "I strongly desired to be a part of the department's inclusive and friendly environment," Liu says. "I feel very lucky to be a part of it."
Japanese Taiko Drumming combines martial arts, dance, and percussion. However, it became much more than that for Roy and PJ Hirabayashi. As Japanese Americans and baby boomers, they struggled to find a sense of identity growing up. Taiko became the form of self-expression they needed. The two paid a visit to campus to share their story.
Associate Professor Travis Workman is known for his research on the Cold War with a focus on Korean film. He answers some questions about his research, his teaching, and what it’s like to be a scholar interested in North Korean topics.
Ning Ma is ALL’s newest faculty member. Her unique educational background and research activities make her a brilliant addition to the department. “I’m really excited by the expansiveness of her research,” says department chair Christine Marran. “Her discussion of economic globalization in a comparative literary context in her book The Age of Silver drew us to her work.”
Asian languages and literatures alumnus Eric Lee-Mäder recently visited campus and gave a riveting lecture on satoyama, Japan’s rural landscapes that blur the lines between nature and agriculture. His passion for agricultural biodiversity and pollinator conservation has taken him all across the world, and he attributes many of the successes in his career to his time in ALL.
Language Proficiency Exams (LPEs) are now available for most modern languages taught at the University of Minnesota, as the Korean and Somali tests are officially approved. The LPE is a four-part test that includes reading, listening, writing and speaking sections. Passing this test is one method of completing the CLA second language requirement.