The purpose of the course is twofold. As the title implies, the explicit aim is to introduce students to premodern Korean literature, religion, art, and history. In addition, students will be expected to gain new analytic frames for studying larger issues such as gender, class, and identity.
This course will serve as a general introduction to Korean history and culture from earliest times to the nineteenth century. A broad historical overview of the various social, economic, political, and religious traditions in premodern Korea will be accompanied by a brief but in-depth discussion of, among other things, the sense of time, space, history, language, body, self, and salvation that we find in the institutions, ideas, and practices of these traditions. Topics to be discussed in this course also include the relation between state, family, gender, and class. Students will be asked to explore these and other topics by applying a context-sensitive reading and critical analysis of the material that will be covered in this course. There are no prerequisites, but some background in the study of history and culture is recommended. Readings will include both primary material in translation and secondary scholarship.
No knowledge of Korean or any other foreign language is required to take this course. This course not only serves as a foundation for all other upper-level courses in Korean Studies but also provides students from various backgrounds with an opportunity to reflect on cultural diversity, alternative forms of making history, and new ways of thinking about the human condition.
The requirements for this course include quizzes, short papers, a screenplay, a reading journal, and also a course blog and wiki.
Three quizzes (map quiz, multiple choice, fill in the blanks), 10% each; three 1200-1400 word response papers, 10% each; screenplay, 20%; reading journal, 10%; participation (course blog and wiki), 10%. The grading of the response papers will be based strictly on the quality of the writing. Students are expected to clearly state a thesis and support this thesis with evidence collected from reliable academic sources. What counts as a reliable source will be explained in class. See syllabus for details. For the screenplay, you must try to dramatize a historical event that took place in premodern Korea. The goal is to capture the imagined details in form of a screenplay focused on actions, setting, and dialogue, while being as historically accurate as possible.
This course, having no prerequisites, is open to students from all backgrounds. Any student with a general interest in Korea and the study of other cultures will be able to benefit from this course.
Undergraduate students who intend to continue to take courses in Korean Studies or Asian Studies. Students who intend to major in history or comparative literature can also benefit from taking this course.
This course will meet twice a week. Each week will consist of two lectures and short in-class discussion.