ASIAN 271 (U-M) | SS13-ASN291-301 (MSU)

Introduction to Korean Civilization: Modern Period (U-M)

Korea and the Modern World (MSU)

Course Number: ASIAN271 (U-M), SS13-ASN291-301 (MSU)

Times: Tuesday/Thursday 2:30-4:00

Instructor: Youngju Ryu

Korea’s twentieth century unfolded against the backdrop of violent political shifts caused by colonialism, civil war, authoritarianism, and democratization. This course is a survey of that history, from the end of the dynastic period to the present. In just one century, how did Korea go from a Confucian monarchy that prized an agrarian way of life to a neoliberal democracy with an export-led, technology-driven economy (at least in the south)? What are the enduring consequences of this transformation in the realms of politics and society, as well as culture and the arts? In addressing these questions, our emphasis will be on contemporary South Korea. A number of questions drawn from seemingly baffling headlines in recent or current news will structure our inquiry and serve as the points of entry. Recurrent in our examinations will be the theme of nationalism, both as it emerges in Korea’s transition from a dynastic polity to a modern nation-state and as it continues to impact the enduring relationship between historical memory and cultural constructions of identity. The aim of this course is not simply to develop familiarity with the broad sweep of modern Korean history and/or major themes of Korean culture from the outside, but to find creative ways to understand the workings of contemporary Korean society from within the complexities of its own logics and historical pasts.

Hosting University: University of Michigan

Participating University: Michigan State University