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Colonial Modernity and Gender in Korean Literature and Film (ResMA)


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Asian Studies (research) or another relevant Research MA. Students from other departments are kindly referred to the course description of the regular MA course.


What did it mean to be modern or modernized in Korea during the first half of the twentieth century? How were the ideas or practices of modernity conceived and exercised? What historical, political, and social changes under colonialism both shaped and were shaped by modern Korean experiences, thereby unsettling Confucian gender roles? This graduate seminar examines critical discussions on colonial modernity and modern Korean experiences through the analysis of filmic and literary works produced and circulated both within and beyond Korea. Students will delve into major issues and debates that have emerged over the last two decades in discussions on modern Korea and its encounters with the world. Students will draw upon primary sources, films and literary texts from the colonial period, and postcolonial representations of colonial Korea, as they develop their own research questions and topics. This seminar consists of class discussions, presentations, and a mini-conference to showcase students’ original research. A reading knowledge of Korean or Japanese is highly recommended, but not required.

Course objectives

This course has three main purposes.
First, students will be encouraged to pursue an informed and nuanced historical understanding of modern Korean experiences and aesthetic practices under colonial rule.
Second, students will be equipped with the critical concepts and analytical tools essential for the analysis of both primary sources and secondary materials on colonial Korea.
Third, individual and collective learning skills will be fostered through active class participation, presentations, and group work.


The timetable is available on the Asianstudies website

Mode of instruction


Attendance and participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to attend all sessions. The convenors need to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Course Load

A brief calculation of the course load, broken down by:

  • Total course load for the course (number of EC x 28 hours), for a course of 5 EC is 140 hours, for 10 EC 280.

  • Contact hours Research MA: 6 hours

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars (eg 2 hours per week x 14 weeks = 28 hours)

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature (as a possible criterion approx. 7 pages per hour with deviations up and down depending on the material to be studied) (if applicable) time for completing assignments, whether in preparation at the college

  • (If applicable) time to write a paper (including reading / research)

Assessment method


Presentations, Formal Paper Assignments.


Final grades will be determined by the following formula:
Attendance and Active Class Participation------------------------------------------------------------------10%
Presentations (Two Critical Reading Responses + Show & Tell Presentation)----------------------15%
Formal Paper Assignments--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------75% • Weekly Postings (200 words X 10 times = 2,000 words): 10% • 10 EC: Proposal (500 words) and Annotated Bibliography: 15% •10 EC: Final Research Paper (4,000 words): 50%


In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.

The course is an integrated whole. All assessment parts must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.

Exam Review

Students may request an oral elucidation of the assessment within 30 days after publication of the grade.


Blackboard will be used for: delivery of relevant reading materials and submission of assignments.

Note: there is no separate Blackboard page available for this ResMa course. Please subscribe to the Blackboard page of the regular MA course.

Reading list

Required Texts:
Ann Sung-Hi Lee, trans., Yi Kwang-su and Modern Korean Literature: Mujǒng
Chong-un Kim, Bruce Fulton, eds., trans., A Ready-Made Life: Early Masters of Modern Korean Fiction
Sunyoung Park, Jefferson J.A. Gatrall, eds., trans., On the Eve of the Uprising and Other Stories from Colonial Korea

Recommended Texts:
Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Hele Tiffin, Post-Colonial Studies: The Key Concepts
David Bordwell, Film Art: Introduction
Hyaeweol Choi, ed., New Women in Colonial Korea: A Source Book
Hyaeweol Choi, Gender and Mission Encounters in Korea
Timothy Corrigan, A Short Guide to Writing about Film
Todd Henry, Assimilating Seoul
Nayoung Aimee Kwon, Intimate Empire
Sungyoung Park, The Proletarian Wave
Gi-Wook Shin and Michael Robinson, eds., Colonial Modernity in Korea
Brian Yecies and Ae-Gyung Shim, Korea’s Occupied Cinemas, 1893–1948
Theodore Jun Yoo, The Politics of Gender in Colonial Korea: Education, Labor, and Health, 1910-1945

For the Research MA students additional readings will be determined by the convener at a later stage taking into account the students’ fields of interest. Extra sessions will be organized to discuss this extra literature.


Students are required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

A la carte nor contractonderwijs is possible for this course.


Dr. Namhee Han


ATTENDENCE POLICY: Students who are absent more than three times during the semester will fail.

Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).