Skip to Main Content

Methods and Materials for South/Southeast Asian Studies: Humanities

Introduction to methods, materials, and recent scholarship in the humanities and social sciences within South and Southeast Asian Studies.

Visiting and Using Materials in the Beinecke

You can schedule a time to come to the Beinecke and view the materials in a secure room. Remember, Beinecke is NOT a lending library, so you can’t take any of the materials out with you, but you can view them, and work with them at the library. Complete directions are available on their website. The most important thing is to make the reservation through their online system. The Beinecke, while beautiful can be an intimidating place, but don’t worry! The guards are all very nice and will point you in the right direction and their librarians, curators, and other staff are happy to show you how to work with rare materials. It is always worthwhile to look into trainings for working with delicate materials and to learn more about preservations and restoration efforts at Yale, by going here:

Readings and Recent Publications

Humanistic approaches to textual studies

Area Studies scholars in the humanities (and sometimes elsewhere), make amazing use of various types of historical documents from their regions of interest, and South/Southeast Asia is no exception. Many people are initially attracted to this region because of its rich literary and visual culture. The beautiful images accompanying written texts, not to mention the fantastically ornate written traditions of these regions is just as appealing to experts as it is to novices. Just take a look at these two fabulous examples:



Aren’t those just enchanting! What’s more, with language study and historical background, you can not only enjoy the vibrant colors, patterns, and scripts but also use these documents to begin discovering things about the region that go far deeper than beauty (although that is certainly a desirable end in itself!).

Beyond visual culture, written documents (fiction and non-fiction alike) provide rich sources of data that go far beyond their direct translations. You’ll be able to see a bunch of examples in section 3 of this module, but let’s do some reading on what we mean by text studies, discourse analysis, and the like.

In this module, we deal directly with critical discourse analysis and narrative research We’ll deal more with quantitative and digital methods in later modules.  

Narrative Research:

"Narrative research...  refers to any study that uses or analyzes narrative materials." (Lieblich, et al 1998)

"By focusing on narrative we are able to investigate not just how stories are structured and they ways in which they work, but also who produces them and by what means, the mechanisms by which they are consumed; and how they are silenced, contested or accepted." (Andrews et al 2008)


Critical Discourse Analysis:

“...stems from a critical theory of language which sees the use of language as a form of social practice. All social practices are tied to specific historical contexts and are the means by which existing social relations are reproduced or contested and different interests are served. It is the questions pertaining to interests that relate discourse to relations of power. How is the text positioned or positioning? Whose interests are served by this positioning? Whose interests are negated? What are the consequences of this positioning? Where analysis seeks to understand how discourse is implicated in relations of power it is called critical discourse analysis.” (Janks 2006)


For more on research approaches in the humanities, check it this LibGuide from USC:

Beinecke Resources

The Yale Library system is full of awesome resources, but the Beinecke Library’s materials are truly extraordinary. The Beinecke houses Yale’s rare book and manuscripts collections. Check out this LibGuide for a complete (ish) list of resources at the Beinecke for South Asia.

If you do nothing else, you need to schedule a time to see these amazing holdings: (Trust me, it will be worth your time):

Librarian for South and Southeast Asian Studies