ahorbinski: The five elements theory in the style of the periodic table of the elements.  (teach the controversy)
I'm auditing a lecture course on premodern Korean history, because I remain woefully ignorant of it, and while madly scribbling down facts and interpretations about the Ten Injunctions and the yangbon in the KoryƏ period today I had an idea that I can't shake. Namely: a course on the comparative history of Korea and Japan.

I think it could work. I think there are a lot of potential pitfalls and issues that need serious consideration, but I think it could work, particularly at a small liberal arts college like my undergraduate institution, and particularly as China's rise gobbles up more and more attention in (East) Asian Studies departments. Or at least anyway, coming to these lectures with a strong background in Japanese history and rudimentary knowledge of Chinese history (yeah, that's what I'll be auditing next), I'm continually struck by how Korean and Japanese history seems to be the story of how the two places dealt with the same forces in similar and dissimilar ways. And I think considering the two histories side by side could nicely highlight some of what I consider the central questions of both places--since "Korea" and "Japan" are relatively recent inventions. And the really cool thing structuring a course this way would be that you could then periodize it not around internal dynastic dates (in the case of Korea) or who's-got-the-power-now dates (in the case of Japan) but around the points of contact and the encounters between the islands and the peninsula, thus foregrounding the interactions between the two, of all sorts. I think that would be really cool, anyway. (This would also work for a book, methinks.)

The real question would be what to call it: classical northeast Asia? ancient northeast Asia? premodern northeast Asia? It depends of course on how far in time each course would go, and each label has its own connotations. I would definitely want to say "northeast Asia," though, because the consolidation of a cultural identity inside a fairly definite geographic boundary was a long process in both countries.

Anyway, I really should be doing actual work now, instead of thinking about syllabi for courses I'll probably never teach. In the meantime, [personal profile] kaigou has an interesting post on impressions of Korean history derived from manhwa.

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ahorbinski: shelves stuffed with books (Default)
Andrea J. Horbinski

May 2016

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