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Trinity Electives: Contemporary Asian Studies

We offer a credit-bearing (5 ECTs) cross-Faculty module on contemporary Asian Studies within the Trinity Electives programme ( The module runs in Hilary term, for two lectures of one-hour duration per week. Module Co-ordinator: Dr Keiko Inoue

Trinity Electives Contemporary Asian Studies aims to provide an introduction to Asian Studies and in particular a multidisciplinary exploration of language, thought, society, culture, business and diplomatic relations in China, Korea and Japan. On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

  • outline the main theories of society, the individual and thought relevant to contemporary East Asia
  • describe and explain the main differences in contemporary culture between China, Japan and Korea
  • describe and analyse accounts of the development of the ‘Asian Century’ and the roles of Japan, Korea and China in the Asia Pacific
  • make oral presentations, either individually or in teams, to an audience of their peers

The course will introduce students to the discipline of contemporary Asian Studies, and will explore how China, Japan and Korea have evolved as cultural and economic drivers in Asia and in a global context. It will examine key issues such as relationships between the individual, society and thought, and popular culture. Students from all disciplines will be encouraged to engage practically and critically with the topics explored in the module through classroom presentations and discussion.

Weekly lectures with diverse topics on aspects of contemporary Asia are delivered by experts in the field. The teaching schedule below gives an indication of the kind of weekly topics covered.

  • Introduction to Asian Studies from a contemporary, comparative perspective
  • Historical context: Imperialism, Revolution and War
  • Contemporary Japan: language, society and culture
  • Contemporary Korea: language, society and culture
  • The Impact of Protracted Conflict on the North and South Korean Societies
  • Contemporary China: language, society and culture
  • Chinese language and the Chinese diaspora in Greater China
  • Thinking through China: a. everything is connected, and b. everything changes
  • Religion and thought – relationships between the individual and society

Required or recommended readings will be available through Blackboard on joining the course. The following is an indicative list, for reference only. Students are not required to have read these before the module.

Buzo, Adam (2007). The Making of Modern Korea (Second Edition). London: Routledge.

Kingston, Jeff (2011). Contemporary Japan: History, Politics, and Social Change since the 1980s. Oxford: Blackwell

Spence, Jonathan (2012). The Search for Modern China (Third Edition). New York: W. W. Norton & Company.