The course provides insight into of some of the most important and intriguing issues and artistic expressions that involve gender and sexuality in East Asia.
The region has in common the legacies of Buddhism and Confucianism, as well as a process of rapid modernization and industrialization in the last couple of centuries. They are also bound to each other through cultural ties, colonial experiences, and international trade. The course assumes that when talking about sexuality, confining our perspective to one nation-state often makes little sense. Many issues cannot be considered outside the contexts of historical, cultural, political, and economic exchange. We must also take account of our own location in a classroom in the United States, and question the ways in which our knowledge about the lives of people in East Asia is constructed and constrained. To this end, the course will encourage us to be critical readers of various sources of information: historical materials, scholarly essays, contemporary journalism, fiction, drama, and film.
The course is divided into four segments:
- Part I introduces students to sexuality and gender studies, as well as to the general contours of East Asian culture and challenges of orientalist perspectives.
- Part II considers the nexus of commerce, performance, and sexuality in early modern East Asia, as portrayed in drama and in cinematic adaptation of theatrical traditions.
- Part III examines ideologies and representations of gender roles and sexuality in modern East Asia, focusing in particular on short fiction and documentary cinema.
- Part IV opens up questions of historical memory and constructions of polymorphous sexuality, through consideration of popular culture such as animation, graphic novels, and music videos.