Education About Asia: Online Archives

Korean Civilization and East Asian Studies

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One of the challenges faced by teachers of East Asian Studies is to move beyond one’s area of research expertise toward teaching that covers “the rest” of East Asia. It is often quite challenging to move toward teaching competence in premodern and modern China and Japan, but extremely difficult— without prior training—to take on the Korean peninsula. Trained as a premodern (Song-Ming) Chinese historian, I spent my first years of teaching working to create fuller offerings in modern China and Japan. I was bothered, however, by the knowledge that I was, quite simply, ignoring Korea. To be sure, I had always noted the process by which Chinese culture “filtered” through the peninsula to Japan, and even used occasional source readings to supplement my survey courses. Nonetheless, it appeared to me that the only way to incorporate teaching about Korea into my course offerings would be to embark on a plan—not unlike creating a postdoctoral “graduate field”—to gain a deeper understanding of the peninsula.1