This course explores the ways that the South Korean nation is “mapped” both spatially and culturally through processes of cultural production and reception. Together we will ask the questions: How do shifting modes of production and consumption of cultural forms that constitute the “Korean Wave”—popular music, TV dramas, and film, but also literature, new media, performing and visual arts, and even food—contribute to new understandings of what the nation is? How is South Korea “mapped” through these cultural practices in a global and regional (East Asian) context? Equally importantly, how do these cultural forms map the nation internally, defining and re-defining Seoul and the provinces?
While the focus of the course is on twenty-first century cultural production, we will refer back to historical processes of nation-making and region-making through engagement with a few select works of fiction, film and popular music. In addition to reading, viewing, and otherwise experiencing the cultural products themselves, students will read academic selections from the Korean Popular Culture Reader (2014, Duke University Press; required) as well as a few other sources. All texts will be read in English translation and media shown with English subtitles; no knowledge of Korean is required.
There are no formal prerequisites for this course, though prior coursework in Korean Studies or Asian Studies will be helpful. This is a discussion-intensive course, so students should come prepared to speak! A significant component of the course is a collaboration with students taking a similar class at a university in South Korea.