CMN 772-03: From Pokémon to K-Pop: East Asian Media and Popular Culture

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COURSE DESCRIPTION:

From K-pop to Pokémon, from TV drama to video games, this course introduces you to the media and popular cultural scene in one of the most dynamic regions of the world economy today. It gives you the theoretical tool to understand and analyze these media and cultural phenomena. While acknowledging some common defining characteristics of East Asian societies, we will pay attention to the internal diversities, differences and transcultural flows within the region as well as East Asian nations’ connections to the world.

The class is divided into three big sections with each focusing one East Asian region: Greater China, Japan, and Korea (South and North). In each section, we will start with a brief introduction to the modern history of the region. Then we will closely examine the region’s current media and pop culture scene and their global impact through case studies. Some of the topics include cyber culture and video games in China; night market and food culture Taiwan; Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement; Japan’s anime culture and cat café; Korean popular music and TV drama and its global fans; and the global circulation of Japanese Manga.

By the end of the semester, you should be able to have a basic understanding of East Asian societies and cultures, critically analyze cultural trends and media events using the theories learnt in this class, and be able to engage in productive conversations with people from these societies.

Week 1

08/27: Class Introduction

  • Holcombe, C. (2016). A History of East Asia. Cambridge University Press. (Introduction): What is East Asia?

08/29: Introducing China (Blog Group 1)

  • Holcombe, C. (2016). A History of East Asia. Cambridge University Press. (Ch 14): China

 

Week 2

09/03 Labor Day, No Class

09/05: Politics of Cyberspace in China (Blog Group 2)

  • Han Rongbin (2018) Contesting cyberspace in China: Online expression and authoritarian resilience; Chapter 4: Pop Activism: Playful Netizens in Cyberpolitics
  • Evan Osnos, IT’S NOT BEAUTIFUL: An Artist Takes on the System, The New Yorker

 

Week 3

09/10 Entrepreneurship and Creativity in China (Blog Group 1)

  • Lindtner, S. (2015). Hacking with Chinese characteristics: the promises of the maker movement against China’s manufacturing culture. Science, Technology, & Human Values40(5), 854-879.
  • Sarah Emerson, “Shenzhen’s three days with Naomi Wu, the face of the local maker scene, homegrown cyborg”, Vice Magazine

09/12 China’s Digital Economy (Blog Group 2)

  • Jiayang Fan, How E-Commerce is Transforming Rural China. The New Yorkers, June 2018

 

Week 4

09/17 Night Market in Taiwan (Blog Group 1)

  • Jordan, D. K., Morris, A. D., & Moskowitz, M. L. (Eds.). (2004). The minor arts of daily life: Popular culture in Taiwan. University of Hawaii Press. (Ch 1): “Hot and Noisy: Taiwan’s Night Market Culture) by Shuenn-Der Yu

09/19 The Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong (Blog Group 2)

  • Lee, L.F. Francis & Chan, M. Joseph (2015) Media and Protest Logics in Digital Era: The Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong (Introduction)

 

Week 5

09/24: Global China (Blog Group 1)

  • Hongmei Sun (2018): “Of Monkey, Human, and God: The Performance of Asian American Identity” (Ch 6) in Transforming Monkey: Adaption and Representation of a Chinese Epic
  • Gene Luen Yang, American Born Chinese (A Comic Book)

09/26 : Media and cultural experience group presentation 1

Announce research topic assignment

 

Week 6

10/01: Introducing Japan (Blog Group 2)

  • Holcombe, C. (2016). A History of East Asia. Cambridge University Press. (Ch 11) Japan

10/03: Cat Café and Japan’s Healing Boom (Blog Group 1)

  • Plourde, L. (2014). Cat cafés, affective labor, and the healing boom in Japan. Japanese Studies, 34(2), 115-133.

 

Week 7

10/09: no-class, work on coming up with your research topic, background and questions

Assignment Due: Research topic, background, and questions (Monday, Oct 8, by 11:59pm)

10/10: Japanese Toys and Cultural Capitalism (Blog Group 2)

  • Anne Allison, Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination (Ch 7), “Pokémon: Getting Monsters and Communicating Capitalism”

 

Week 8

10/15: Global Japan (Blog Group 1)

  •  Anne Allison, Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination (Ch 8): “Gotta Catch ‘Em All’: The Pokemization of America (and the World)”
  • Matt Alt, “The United States of Japan”, The New Yorker. May 4, 2018.

10/17: Media and Cultural Experience Group Presentation 2

Briefly Introducing Your Research Project in Class (3-4 mins)

 

Week 9

10/22: Introducing Korea (Blog Group 2)

  • Holcombe, C. (2016). A History of East Asia. Cambridge University Press. (Ch 12) Korea

10/24: Meeting at the Freedom Café to workshop research proposal

Research Proposal Due (Saturday, Oct 27th, by 11:59 pm)

 

Week 10

10/29: K-pop I (Blog Group 1)

  • Kim Suk-Young (2018) K-pop Live: Fans, Idols, and Multimedia Performance: Chapter 1
  • John Seabrook, Factory Girls: Cultural Technology and the Making of K-pop, The New Yorker

10/31: K-pop II (Blog Group 2)

  • Kim Suk-Young (2018) K-pop Live: Fans, Idols, and Multimedia Performance: Chapter 3

 

Week 11

11/5: Global Korea (Blog Group 1)

  • Sherri L.Ter Molen (2014).: A Cultural Imperialistic Homecoming: The Korean Wave Reaches the United States

11/7:  North Korea beyond Stereotypes (Blog Group 2)

  • Guy Delisle, Pyongyang: A journey in North Korea (Graphic Novel)

 

Week 12

11/12: Veteran Day, No Class

11/14: Wrapping up Media and Cultural Experience Group Presentation 3

 

Week 13

11/19: Individual meeting to discuss class projects

11/21: No Class, Thanksgiving Break