Academic year
2022/2023 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
NA003B (AF:421834 AR:231550)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Educational sector code
Summer course
Course year
Go to Moodle page
Due to the advancement of digital technologies, we now truly live in a global community. As a result, the barriers that were once limiting our access to information and content produced in other world regions have partially collapsed.
Researching, understanding, and critically assessing information generated in other areas has become a crucial skill for anyone working in a multicultural or international environment.

This course introduces essential aspects of the societies of Japan and South Korea. You will learn the tools to research these two countries' social and market phenomena. You will learn these tools while trying to answer a concrete question: what has made these two countries' cultural and industrial products so diffused and famous worldwide? We are overwhelmed by Japanese and South Korean cultural items, from the videogames to anime, from Pokemon to KPOP. What social and historical conditions have enabled the global expansion of their cultural industries?

This course is part of the "Asia: cultures, societies and markets
Minor" and targets students from multiple research areas and disciplines. At the end of the course, you will master a set of research skills, analytical skills, and critical thinking skills, which you will be able to bring back to your academic discipline and workplace.
At the end of the course you will be able to:

1) Search and gather information concerning the Japanese and South Korean society.
a. You will be able to discern between academic, journalistic, and governmental sources.
b. You will learn how to search for information using web-based tools.

2) Contextualize the data you found both synchronically and diachronically.
a. You will learn the geographical and historical context of these two regions.
b. You will be able to distinguish these two regions' social and market peculiarities.

3) Critically evaluate the data gathered and their hidden assumptions.
a. You will identify the limits of a eurocentric vision of the world.
b. You will be able to recognize what is an essentialist vision of culture.
Discussions will be conducted in Italian. Therefore, fluency in the Italian language is required.
English reading and listening skills are also required.
The course is divided into three main sections: 1) Geography and Methodology, 2) Introduction to Contemporary Society, and 3) Cultural Industry.

1 Geography and Methodology.
In this part, you will acquire basic knowledge and learn to use research tools for studying phenomena related to Japan and South Korea. Additionally, you will discuss stereotypes, ideological assumptions, and cognitive biases that can influence the discussion and representation of these two areas.

1.1 Course Introduction and Initial Discussion on Geographical Concepts of Reference
1.2 What do we mean by "Asia"? What do we mean by "the Orient"?
1.3 How is Japan represented in European and American media?
1.4 Cultural essentialism, othering, and orientalism
1.5 Auto-orientalism, alternative categories and representative models, research tools

2 Society and Histories
In this section, you will gain basic knowledge of the social structure of Japan and South Korea through the analysis of case studies. The case studies examined will reflect contemporary debate topics, inviting comparison with the Italian and European contexts.

2.1 Brief history of colonization, liberation, and division of Korea.
2.2 Post-war economic and industrial development and Japanese colonization
2.3 Myths of ethnic and cultural homogeneity and gender disparities
2.4 Cultural dimensions and consumer behaviors

3 Cultural Industry
In this part, you will apply the knowledge, methodologies, and tools acquired in the previous sections to analyze specific case studies related to the Japanese and South Korean cultural industries. In particular, you will reflect on how the progress of digital technologies is transforming cultural production in these two countries. We will also dedicate a session to analyzing the Italian cultural industry in these two countries.

3.1 Is there a Japanese internet?
3.2 How did modern manga originate?
3.3 Webtoon and digital manga
3.4 What does the "K" in KPOP mean?
3.5 Creator economy
3.6 How is Italy represented in Japan?
Holcombe, Charles. "Rethinking Early East Asian History." Education about Asia 11.2 (2006): 9-13.

Lewis, Martin W., Kären E. Wigen, and Kären Wigen. The myth of continents: A critique of metageography. Univ of California Press, 1997.
(INTRODUCTION pp. 1 - 19 & Chapter 2 pp. 47 - 72)

Hayes, Christopher J. "Othered, Orientalised, and Opposingly Depicted." electronic journal of contemporary japanese studies (2019).

Hinton, Perry. "Representation or misrepresentation? British media and Japanese popular." NECSUS. European Journal of Media Studies 3.1 (2014): 89-108.

Wagenaar, Wester. "Wacky Japan:: A new face of orientalism." Asia in Focus: A Nordic journal on Asia by early career researchers 3 (2016): 46-54.

Dervin, Fred. "Cultural identity, representation and othering." The Routledge handbook of language and intercultural communication. Routledge, 2012. 195-208.

Inokuchi, Hiromitsu, and Yoshiko Nozaki. "“Different than Us”: Othering, Orientalism, and US middle school students' discourses on Japan." Asia Pacific Journal of Education 25.1 (2005): 61-74.

Phillips, Anne. "What's wrong with Essentialism?." Distinktion: Scandinavian journal of social theory 11.1 (2010): 47-60.

Said, Edward. "Orientalism” (1978).
(Introduction pp 1 - 28 )

Kobayashi, Koji, Steven J. Jackson, and Michael P. Sam. "Globalization, creative alliance and self-Orientalism: Negotiating Japanese identity within Asics global advertising production." International Journal of Cultural Studies 22.1 (2019): 157-174.

Atkins, Everett Taylor. "Primitive selves: Koreana in the Japanese colonial gaze, 1910-1945." (2010).

Kohli, Atul. "Chapter Four. Where Do High-Growth Political Economies Come From? The Japanese Lineage of Korea’s “Developmental State”." The developmental state. Cornell University Press, 2019. 93-136.

Haggard, Stephan, David Kang, and Chung-In Moon. "Japanese colonialism and Korean development: A critique." World Development 25.6 (1997): 867-881.

Jonghoe, Yang. "Colonial legacy and modern economic growth in Korea: a critical examination of their relationships." Development and Society 33.1 (2004): 1-24.

Elstrom Deanna, Erina Miyazaki, Yuko Yamanobe. “JAPAN 2022: THE DEVIL YOU KNOW - Why Japan continues to shrug off the staggering costs of gender inequality.” Ipsos 2022

Sugimoto, Yoshio. An introduction to Japanese society. Cambridge University Press, 2021. (ch. 2, 3, 7)


Brannen, Mary Yoko. "When Mickey loses face: Recontextualization, semantic fit, and the semiotics of foreignness." Academy of Management R

Steinberg, Marc. The platform economy: How Japan transformed the consumer Internet. U of Minnesota Press, 2020.

Exner, Eike. Comics and the Origins of Manga: A Revisionist History. Rutgers University Press, 2021. (facoltativo anche per non-frequentanti)

Ito, Kinko. "A history of manga in the context of Japanese culture and society." Journal of Popular Culture 38.3 (2005): 456. (facoltativo anche per non-frequentanti)

Fuhr, Michael. "K-Pop music and transnationalism." The Routledge Handbook of Korean Culture and Society. Routledge, 2016. 283-296.

Kim, Suk-Young. "K-pop Live." K-pop Live. Stanford University Press, 2018. (facoltativo anche per non-frequentanti)

Miyake, Toshio. "Il boom dell’Italia in Giappone: riflessioni critiche su Occidentalismo e Italianismo." Between 1.1 (2011).
Your contribution to group activities and class discussions will be evaluated.
Additionally, at the end of the course, you will be required to produce a written assignment.
Classes are held face-to-face.
Classes are designed following the principles of active learning methodology.
The course adopts multiple audiovisual materials, such as documentaries, youtube videos, films-texts, and other cultural products, and group activities and discussions will be held at each class.
Some of the topics will be introduced by guest speakers.
Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 11/04/2023