History of ALC

Asian Languages and Cultures (ALC) at UCLA began in 1947 as the Department of Oriental Languages. The name was changed to East Asian Languages and Cultures in 1984 and became simply Asian Languages and Cultures in 2001. Richard C. Rudolph, as chair, along with Ensho Ashikaga and Yong C. Chu constituted the founding faculty. Initially students could specialize in either Chinese or Japanese studies, but the department also taught many other Asian languages (Arabic, Hindi, Mongolian, Sanskrit, Tibetan, etc.) as circumstances permitted. The department began a M.A. program in 1958 and a Ph.D. program in 1967. In the early 1960s the department began to emphasize the teaching of Buddhist Studies and other courses on cultural traditions. Instruction in Korean began in 1986 and became an undergraduate major in 1997. In 2001 the department absorbed UCLA’s language programs in Filipino, Hindi-Urdu, Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese. The subsequent budget crisis prevented us from adding a robust complement of courses on Southeast Asian culture, history, and literature as originally envisioned at that time.

Today the department offers a comprehensive curriculum in all aspects of Asian languages and cultures. Undergraduate students can major in Asian Humanities, Asian Religions, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. We offer a graduate program leading to the Ph.D. with specializations in the areas of Buddhist Studies, Chinese Language and Culture, Cultural and Comparative Studies, East Asian Linguistics, Japanese Literary and Cultural Studies, as well as Korean Language and Culture.

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