Weeks 1-8

 Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays at 9 AM : Lecture Theatre 1, Oriental Institute

 This course is a general survey of East Asia in the Modern Period and provides essential background for further study in either Chinese or Japanese studies.  In order to provide students with the best possible introduction to each topic, the course is team-taught, with a number of different lecturers.  This also gives students a chance to meet many of the lecturers in East Asian studies at Oxford. The course begins with a look at contemporary society and culture in Japan and then moves on to historical surveys of Japan, Korea and China.  In Hilary Term, the economy, politics and literature of Japan will be taken up.

 The class schedule for Michaelmas Term follows.  Please note that the class does not always meet on Fridays.  Following the schedule, details about the individual topics are listed for each lecturer.  The coordinator for these lectures/classes is Dr. Mark Rebick.  His office is in the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies on the first floor and his email address is Week 1:  Monday (8/10), Wednesday (10/10)– Japanese Sociology / Anthropology

Professor Roger Goodman

Week 2:  Monday (15/10), Wednesday (17/10) – Japanese Sociology / Anthropology

Professor Roger Goodman

Week 3:  Monday (22/10), Wednesday (24/10), Friday (26/10) — Modern Japanese History

Dr Sho Konishi

Week 4:  Monday (29/10), Wednesday (31/10)— Modern Japanese History

Dr Sho Konishi

Week 5:  Monday (5/11), Wednesday (7/11), Friday (9/11) — Modern Korean History

Dr James Lewis

Week 6:  Monday (12/11), Wednesday (14/11), Friday (16/11) – Modern Korean History

Dr James Lewis

Week 7:  Monday (19/11), Wednesday (21/11)  -- Modern Chinese History

Dr Karl Gerth


Week 8: Monday (26/11), Wednesday (28/11)  -- Modern Chinese History

Dr Karl Gerth








Professor Roger Goodman: Weeks 1 and 2

Japanese Society

Lecture 1

An Introduction to Japanese Society

Lecture 2

The Consensus Model of Japanese Society

Lecture 3

The Japanese Education System: For the Good of the State or the Individual?

Lecture 4

The Japanese Company: Based on Harmony or Conflict?

Recommended Introductory Reading

Befu, H., 1981,  Japan : An Anthropological Introduction, Tuttle, Tokyo

Eccleston, B., 1989, State and Society in Post-War Japan, Polity Press

Hendry, J., 2003, Understanding Japanese Society (3rd edition), Routledge

Lebra, T.S., (ed), 1992 Japanese Social Organization, University of Hawaii Press

Nakane, Chie, 1973, Japanese Society, Penguin

Okimoto, D. and Rohlen, T., 1988, Inside the Japanese System: Readings on Contemporary Society and Political Economy, Standford University Press

Sugimoto, Y., 1997, An Introduction to Japanese Society

Essay Topics: To be announced in class










Dr. Sho Konishi, weeks 3 and 4

Modern Japanese History

To be added










Dr. JB Lewis, weeks 5 and 6

Modern Korean History

slides on Weblearn:

ESSAY: due Friday of 6th week. Pick one question from suggested ‘Essay Questions’ and give Lewis 1,000 word-processed words. The essay must contain your name, college, and a bibliography.

Week 5: Monday and Wednesday (slides `Korea 1863-1905')

I. `Traditional Korea and the Emerging World Order’

1) Traditional Korea (1863 to 1876)

            a) Korea as the Confucian idyll

            b) a stable and balanced political order preserved the status quo

            c) the appearance of a strong leader: Taewŏngun (Regent 1863- 1874);

                        1) burden on peasantry and inflationary monetary policy

                        2) sought to buttress the monarchy at aristocratic expense

3) foreign policy was isolationist towards West (斥邪衛正, 척사위정: Reject heterodoxy and defend orthodoxy)

            d) reversion to the former status quo: King Kojong (1874-1907)

2) Transition to Modernity I: What was done to Korea?

            a) From crisis to crisis: 1876 to 1905

                        1) The Kanghwa Treaty of 1876 with Japan

                                    a) Japan’s shifting image of Korea

                                                1) Kaikoku Heidan (ca. 1791) by Hayashi Shihei

                                                2) Shinron (1825) by Aizawa Yasushi

                                                3) Chōsen koku go yōken kenpakusho (1864) by Ōshima Tomonojō

4) 18/12/1868 letters presented at Pusan notifying the Koreans of the establishment of the Meiji government: of Emperors and seals— 我皇 (our emperor), (imperial order) – “shameless” and “lawless”

5) Seikanron of 1873: Ōkubo Toshimichi defeats Saigō Takamori, the first major crisis of the Meiji government

b) Japanese gunboat diplomacy and the Kanghwa Treaty provisions

2) Korean-American Treaty of 1882 and the 1885 Convention of Tientsin

a) Li Hung-chang’s policy: break with the past and actively engage with Korean politics

                                    b) Korean Self-Strengthening and Horimoto Reizō

                                    c) Commodore Shufeldt

d) Imo Incident of 1882 and the appearance of Yuan Shih-k’ai

                                    e) China and Japan confront each other on the Korean

peninsula for the first time since the 1590s

f) 1885 Convention of Tientsin: China changes its policy towards Korea, but backs away from war with Japan

                        3) Sino-Japanese War of 1894 and the entry of Russia

                                    a) Korea becomes a pawn in Great Power politics

                                    b) Ch’oe Che-u and The Tonghaks                                

c) Kabo Reform of 1894

d) Triple Intervention

                                    e) Murder of a Queen

                                    f) The Russian Card

4) 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War and Anglo-American acquiescence

Essay Questions:

  • `What does “modernization” mean to Koreans?
  • The modern West and Japan presented challenges to late Chosŏn-period Koreans.  What were these challenges and how did they cope or not cope?


  • Andrew C. Nahm's Korea: Tradition and Transformation : A History of the Korean People, Seoul: Hollym International Corporation, 1988 or 1996.

Chapter 5: “The End of Isolation, Modernization, and the Growing National Insecurity”

and Chapter 6: “The Demise of the Yi Dynasty and Korean Independence”

  • Chung, Chai-sik. A Korean Confucian Encounter with the Modern World: Yi Hang-no and the West. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Center for Korean Studies, 1995.


Week 5: Friday (slides `Japanese Colony')

II. `Japanese Colonisation: Victimisation or Lessons in Modernisation?’

1) 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War and the 1905 “Protectorate Treaty

2) Was there a Japanese Land Grab?

3) Creation of an industrial bourgeoisie

4) Colonial style of industrialisation

a) Finance and Management

b) Raw materials and technology

c) Markets and labour

d) Legacy: State capitalism

5) Mobilization of the Colony: Nai-Sen Ittai (内鮮一体) or an attempt at cultural genocide?

a) “Lost names” or “Identity creation”?

b) Forced labour, conscription, “Comfort Women” and the creation of the Korean minority in Japan

c) Collaboration of the native bourgeoisie/intellectuals

d) Cultural legacy

Essay Questions:

·      Korea was not a 'colony' of Japan; it was a part of Japan.  Discuss.

·      Japanese rule initiated "modernization" in Korea.  Discuss.


·      Andrew C. Nahm's Korea: Tradition and Transformation : A History of the Korean People, Seoul: Hollym International Corporation, 1988 or 1996.

Chapter 7: “Korea Under Japanese Colonial Rule”

·      Eckert, Carter J. Offspring of Empire: The Koch'ang Kims and the Colonial Origins of Korean Capitalism, 1876-1945. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991.

Chapter 8: “Class over Nation”

·      Ch'ae, Man-sik (trans. by Chun Kyung-ja; intro. by Carter J. Eckert). Peace Under Heaven: A Modern Korean Novel. N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1993.


Week 6: Monday (slides `Nationalism and Communism')

III. `Korean Nationalism and Communism’

1) Nationalism prior to the Versailles Peace Conference of 1919

a) Second Hague Peace Conference

1) Protectorate Treaty

2) 29 August 1910: Annexation

b) Righteous Armies (義兵)

1) August 1907 Korean army units were ordered disbanded

c) Patriotic Enlightenment Movement

1) development of a Korean press:

a) 1883: Kim Ok-kyun, Hansŏng Sunbo (漢城旬報 한성순보)

b) 1896: Sŏ Chae-p’il, The Independent

c) 1898: Nam Kung’ŏk, Hwangsŏng Shinmun (皇城新聞 황성신문)

d) 1905: Ernest Bethell and Yang Ki-t’aek, Taehan Maeil Shinbo (大韓每日新報 대한매일신보)

2) Education

3) Religion

a) US Missionaries

b) Korean Protestants

c) Tonghak/Ch’ŏndogyo (天道敎)

2) Nationalism and Communism after the Versailles Peace Conference (18/1/1919): Vladimir Ilich Lenin and Woodrow Wilson

a) November 1917: Bolsheviks take power

b) Versailles Peace Conference (opened 18/1/1919)

c) 1/3/1919: March First Declaration

1) 33 leaders and Ch’oe Namsŏn (崔南善, 1890-1957)

2) Tongnip Mansei (獨立萬歲, 독립)

3) Pagoda Park

4) Nation-wide demonstrations and brutal suppression

3) Three areas of resistance

a) China: Provisional Government

1) April 1919: Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea (大韓民國臨時政府, 대한민국임시청부)

2) Activities:

a) diplomacy

b) propaganda (e.g., Taegukki)

c) terrorism

b) Inside Korea

1) Boycotts and strikes:

2) Politics: Singanhoe (“New Trunk Society” 新幹會 신간회)

3) 1929-1930 Kwangju Student Movement

c) Manchuria

1) Kim Ilsŏng (Kim Il Sung 김일성 金日成)


Essay Questions:

·      What is nationalism and what are the characteristics and origins of Korean nationalism?


·      Anderson, Benedict. Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. Revised edition. London: Verso, 1991.

·      Gellner, Ernest.  Nationalism. London: Phoenix, 1997.

·      Nahm, Andrew C. Korea: Tradition and Transformation: A History of the Korean People. Seoul: Hollym International Corporation, 1988 or 1996.

      Chapter 8: “The Liberation and Reconstruction Movements at Home and Abroad”

·      Wells, Kenneth M. New God, New Nation: Protestants and Self-Reconstruction Nationalism in Korea, 1896-1937. Honolulu: U. of Hawaii Press, 1991.

·      Robinson, Michael E. Cultural Nationalism in Colonial Korea, 1920-1925. Seattle: University of Wash. Press, 1989.

·      Pai, Hyung Il and Timothy R. Tangherlini, ed. Nationalism and the construction of Korean identity. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, 1998.


Week 6: Wednesday (slides `Korean War')

IV. `The Korean Civil War’

1) 1937-1945: the China War, the Pacific War, and Korea

a) Korean colony was directly involved as the forward base for Japanese imperialism in China

b) Korean colony was indirectly involved in the Pacific War

c) Cairo Declaration (1 December 1943)

2) 1945-1950: Korea as a pivot of the Cold War

3) Politics in the South: polarisation, economic chaos, and guerrillas

a) Korean People’s Republic (formed on 6 September 1945)

b) US forces sought leaders from among the Korean landlord/capitalist class: Syngman Rhee (李承晩, 이승만, 1875-1965)

c) economic chaos

d) Guerrilla activity (slides 13-14)

4) Politics in the North: ruthless elimination of rivals by Kim Il Sung

a) Kim Il Sung (金日成, 김일성, 1912-1994)

b) Why Kim?

5) Establishment of Separate Regimes

a) 5-year Trusteeship Plan drawn up in Dec. 1945 by UK, US, USSR, and China:

b) US proposed Korean independence to the UN:

1) adopted by UN General Assembly over Soviet protests

a) Syngman Rhee elected first President; 15 August, Republic of Korea established; Dec. 1948, recognised by the UN General Assembly as the “only lawfully constituted government in Korea.”

b) 9 Sept. 1948, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea est. in north

6) Korean Civil War of 1950-1953

a) Causes

1) International: Stalin’s folly

2) International: Mao’s hesitant acquiescence

3) Domestic causes and repercussions: Kim’s gamble

a) Reasons for Kim’s war-making:

b) Kim’s mistakes:

c) Kim’s losses and gains:

b) Outbreak of war

1) 25 June 1950, North Korea opened a full-scale invasion of the south across the 38th Parallel

2) War nearly went nuclear

c) Armistice

d) Effects of the War

Essay Questions:

·      The Korean War was not the first real contest of the Cold War; it was a civil war.  Discuss.

·      The Korean War was not a civil war; it was the first real contest of the Cold War.  Discuss.


·      Andrew C. Nahm's Korea: Tradition and Transformation: A History of the Korean People, Seoul: Hollym International Corporation, 1988 or 1996.

Chapter 9: “Korea Under the Allied Occupation”

·      Goncharev, Sergei N. et al. Uncertain Partners: Stalin, Mao, and the Korean War.  Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993.

·      Suh, Dae-Sook. Kim Il Sung: the North Korean Leader. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988.

·      Cumings, Bruce. Korea’s Place in the Sun. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1998.      Chapters 4 (“The Passions, 1945-1948”) and 5 (“The Collision, 1948-1953”).

Week 6: Friday (slides `Contemporary Korea')

V. `Post-Civil War Korea in East Asia and Future Scenarios’

1) South (Republic of Korea)

            a) 3 Cleavages:

1) politics: democracy – vs – authoritarianism

2) economy: economic justice –vs – development

3) reunification: populist – vs – conservative

            b) First Cleavage: authoritarianism triumphant

1) Liberation, War, and the fall of Syngman Rhee (1875-1965)

            c) Second Cleavage: developmentalism triumphant

1) Park Chung Hee (Pak Chŏnghŭi, 朴正熙, 1917-1979) and the re-establishment of state-led industrialisation

2) December 1979: Night of the Generals and the rise

 of Chun Doo Hwan (Chun Tuhwan)

3) June 1987: Roh Tae Woo (No T’aeu)’s issued a public Declaration that promised to protect  “Democracy”

                                    4) 1988: Seoul Olympics

                                    5) 1990: absorption of the right-wing of the opposition

 – Kim Young Sam (Kim Yŏngsam) joined the

 government party

6) 1992: Kim Young Sam inaugurated as first civilian President since 1960

7) 1998: Kim Dae Jung (Kim Taejung) inaugurated as President—Sunshine Policy/Nordpolitik

8) 2002: Roh Moo-hyun (No Mu-hyŏn) inaugurated as President

2) North (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) under Kim Il Sung (Kim Ilsŏng) and Kim Jong Il (Kim Chŏngil) (slide 8)

a) Post-Korean War reconstruction

b) December 1955: Chuch’e (Self-reliance, 主體) ideology first appears

c) 1956: began a new attack on the Yenan Group

d) DPRK in the Sino-Soviet split of the 1960s

            e) Rise and fall of the Partisans and long-term entrenchment of the military

            f) 1970s-1980s

1) towards South: Dialogue and attack

2) towards others: inept diplomacy and Leader of the Third World

3) 1970s saw a shift in power from Party to State

                        4) new offensives

            g) Corporatism as the ruling style:

1) The Leader: charismatic source of legitimacy and ideology

2) The Family: core unit of society

3) The Party: core of the body politic

4) The Idea: Chuch’e (주체/主體)

5) The Revolution: The Leader’s biography

6) The Guide: The Leader’s progeny (family succession)

7) The World: national solipsism (The Leader = Sun; Chuch’e = Sun’s rays; world turns towards the Sun)

 3) Future Scenarios

            a) Reunification

b) The changing international environment in a post-Cold War world will present challenges to North-South rapprochement

Essay Questions:

  • What are the major challenges facing the Korean people north and south of the DMZ?
  • What are the major differences between pre-1945 Korea and post-1945 Korea?
  • What threats or opportunities would a reunified Korea pose to its neighbours?


  • Andrew C. Nahm's Korea: Tradition and Transformation: A History of the Korean People, Seoul: Hollym International Corporation, 1988 or 1996.

Chapter 10: “The Communist State of North Korea”

Chapter 11: “The Struggle for Democracy in the Republic of Korea”

Chapter 12: “National Development and Modern Transformation in South Korea”

  • Koo, Hagen, ed. State and Society in Contemporary Korea. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993.
  • Pihl, Marshall R. and Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton (trans. and ed.). Land of Exile: Contemporary Korean Fiction. N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe (East Gate Book), July, 1993.

General Readings for East Asian History:

·         Marks, Robert B. The origins of the modern world: a global and ecological narrative. Lanham, MD; Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.
·         COHEN, Warren I. East Asia at the Center (New York: Columbia Univ. Press), 2001.
·         MURPHEY, Rhoads. A History of Asia, 4th ed. (New York: Addison-Wesley), 2003.
·         MASON, Colin. A short history of Asia: stone age to 2000 AD. (New York: St. Martin's Press), 2000.























Dr. Karl Gerth, weeks 7 and 8

Modern Chinese History

Week 7: Monday

Lecture One:  Cultural and Historiographical Contexts of Modern Chinese History 

1. Introduction: What Makes China “Chinese”?

2. Social Relations

            family (jia) as basic social unit


            marriage as a contractual relationship

            guanxi and patronage

3. Status of Merchants

            SPAM: the Confucian totem pole

            official supervision/domination of trade

4. Role of Law in Society

5. Population Issues

            limitations of population figures

            explaining population increase

            cyclical nature of increase in human population

            paradox of growth and productivity

6. Social Mobility

            the mobility debate

            "gentry" vs. "elite"

            multiple sources of wealth and power

            local elites and public works

            commercial expansion

7. Conclusion: The Importance of Being Chinese


1. When does "modern China" begin?

2. How can one explain the collapse of China’s traditional or imperial order?

3. When it collapsed, what changed, what didn’t, and how can we explain?

·         Naquin, Susan and Evelyn S. Rawski, Chinese Society in the Eighteenth Century, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987)
  • Spence, Jonathan D., The Search for Modern China, (New York: W. W. Norton, 1990), Chapters 1-6

Week 7 Wednesday

Lecture Two:  China and Nationalism: From “Empire” to “Modern Nation”?

1. The Treaty Ports

            Shanghai (international)

            Dual meanings of the treaty ports

            Birth of the Chinese mass media

            Rise of Chinese public opinion

2. Kang Youwei and Confucian Reformism

            New Text Movement

            "Great Unity" (datong)

            Social Darwinism

            Guangxu Emperor

            "Hundred Days of Reform" (1898)

3. First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95)

            War over control of Korea

            Treaty of Shimonoseki (February 1895)

            "scramble for concessions" (1898)

4. Boxer Uprising (1898-1901)

            the Shandong context

            Boxers United in Righteousness

            Siege of Beijing (summer 1900)

            Li Hongzhang's pact with the foreign powers

            Boxer Protocol (September 1901)

5. Conclusion: Six Degrees of Demoralization

·         Unger, Jonathan, ed. 1996. Chinese Nationalism. Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe.
  • Spence, Jonathan D., The Search for Modern China, (New York: W. W. Norton, 1990), Chapters 7-16

Week 8 Monday

Lecture Three: New Societies: From the Nanjing Decade to the PRC
A. Did the Communists Win or the Nationalists Lose?
1. The GMD’s New Problems
            Weak government at all levels
            Takeover from the Japanese poorly handled
            Little resumption of industry
            Protest in Taiwan (28 February 1947: “2-28”)
            Economic incompetence and “inflationary finance”
2. Civil War (1946-49)
            American involvement 
            Political Consultative Conference
            Chiang moves to Taiwan (1949)
            Establishment of the PRC (1 October 1949)
3. The Chinese Revolution: Recent Interpretations
B. Creating a New State and Revolutionizing Chinese Society, 1949-60
1. Consolidation
            Marriage Law (1950)
            Continuity of personnel 
            Tackling inflation
            Aid from the USSR
            International stature: Korean War
            Hundred Flowers Campaign (1956-57)
            Anti-Rightist Campaign (1957-58)
2. Collectivization of Agriculture in Three Stages
3. Thought Control: Need to Mobilize Chinese on Behalf of State Goals
4. Great Leap Forward (1958-1960)
·         Maurice Meisner, Mao’s China and After: A History of the People’s Republic, 3nd Edition, (The Free Press, 1999), Chapters 1-13.
·         Anita Chan, et al., Chen Village Under Mao and Deng, Expanded & Updated Edition (California, 1992), Chapter 1-3.

Week 8 Wednesday

Lecture Four: Interpreting China Under and After Mao

A. The Maoist Era

1. Content of Mao Zedong Thought

            Prominence of Ideology


            Key Question of Maoist Era: How to Mobilize the Will of the People?

            Role of Struggle



2. Prelude to the Cultural Revolution

            Pragmatists in Charge

            Mao's Concerns

            Socialist Education Movement

3. The Cultural Revolution

            Attacks on Liu and Deng

            Red Guards

            PLA Restores Order

4. Jiang Qing and the Gang of Four

            Continuing Radicalism

            Moderation of Zhou Enlai

            Hua Guofeng as Premier

            Mao's Death and the Arrest of the Gang of Four

            Re-re-ascendancy of Deng Xiaoping

B. After Mao

1. Zhou Enlai’s “Four Modernizations”

            Death of Zhou Enlai (January 1976)

            Death of Zhu De (July 1976)

2. Rehabilitation and Party Rebuilding

            Rise of “Paramount Leader” Deng Xiaoping and his pragmatists

            Deng’s Four Cardinal Principles (March 1979)

            Resolution on “questions of Party history” (June 1981)

3. The Open Door

            Deng’s US trip (1979)

            Foreign technology and capital

            Educational exchanges

            Sino-British Joint Declaration (1984)

4. Foreign Trade and Investment

            Greater autonomy to coastal areas

            Special Economic Zones (SEZ’s)

            New institutions to handle foreign trade and investment

            China joins the IMF and World Bank (1980)

5. The Limits of Reform

            The Democracy Movement

            “Democracy Wall” (October 1978)

            Intellectual alienation: the historical context

            Chinese Society on the Eve of Tiananmen: The Consequences of Reform

            The Beijing Massacre

6. The PRC at 50+: Accomplishments and Problems

·         Maurice Meisner, Mao’s China and After: A History of the People’s Republic, 3nd Edition, (The Free Press, 1999), Chapters 14-20.
·         Anita Chan, et al., Chen Village Under Mao and Deng, Expanded & Updated Edition (California, 1992), Chapter 4-8.
·         Li Zhensheng, Red-Color News Soldier (Phidon, 2003).