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Gender, Family, and Social Change in Contemporary South Korea (Coursera)

This course examines the transformation of Korean society beginning around the turn of the 20th century to contemporary times. In particular, it explores how shifting categories of masculinity, and by contrast, femininity have impacted upon, and in turn been influenced by social, cultural, and political change.

Using multiple disciplinary lenses, we will critically examine how gender intersects with political, social, and economic developments starting with the Confucianization of Korean society during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) up to the contemporary moment of globalization and neoliberal reform. The class will draw on a variety of topics such as traditional views of women, religion, race, class, education, patriarchy, sexuality, imperialism, modernity, war, globalization, the diaspora, among others. Special attention will be placed on the historical, transnational and transdisciplinary connections.



The Gendering of Modernity and Military Authoritarianism

Broad overview of Korean history and literature beginning in the Joseon period with a particular focus on a series of social and cultural transformations that would have profound impact on the gender relations starting with Confucianism.

Graded: Who was Kim Sooim?

Graded: What is a “V-line?”

Graded: Who was Shin Saimdang

Graded: Over A T-Shirt??


The (Un)making of the Modern Family

Introduction to the strategically gendered division of role in making modern Korean families and contemporary changes in the perception of marriage and family in Korea.

Graded: The (Un)making of the Modern Family Quiz

Graded: The (un)making of the Korean families


Female Beauty / Male Beauty & Body Aesthetics

Examine a range of topics including cosmetic surgery to male circumcision and body lines to understand how female and male beauty standards and aesthetics have changed over the past two centuries.

Graded: How male K-Pop idols are redefining masculinity


Sexuality in Korea

Discuss the issues of sexualities in contemporary Korea, ranging from the relationship between family and sexuality, commodified sexuality, to the issues of sexual minorities.

Graded: Sexuality in Korea Quiz

Graded: What is sexuality?


Looking Ahead into the Future…

Provide an overview of current positive changes in Korea related to gender and discuss impending issues of contemporary feminist movement and comfort women before concluding the lecture series.

Graded: Bibliography

Graded: Conclusion Lectures Quiz

Graded: Feminism in the contemporary Korea