East Asian Languages and Cultures | Cross-Cultural Experiences of War
E180 | 27542 | Robinson


This course examines the impact of three 20th century wars on the
cultural and political relations between the U.S. and East Asia. The
purpose of the course is to understand how our violent encounters
with Japan in World War II, with China and North Korea during the
Korean War, and with the Vietnamese between 1960-1975 have shaped
mutual perceptions of culture, race, and gender. Rather than
consider war from "strategic," national interest, or geo-political
standpoints, we will consider how war shapes interpersonal contact
between war's fighting participants and ordinary people,particularly
women and children. These 20th century wars have brought literally
hundreds of thousands of U.S. men (and women) in contact with the
people of East Asia for the first time. Contact mediated by the
extraordinary conditions of war's destruction, social dislocation,
cultural trauma, and physical violence has left lasting impressions
on the peoples of our very different societies. Therefore, this
contact has constructed skewed cultural and racial perceptions.

We will study how these perceptions of the experience of war shape
our own understanding of East Asia as well as the nature and meaning
of war for ourselves. In the course of this study, we will also pick-
up a broad understanding of the historical narrative of East Asia in
the 20th century: its culture, politics, social structure, and
values. We will use non-traditional sources for this study: feature
films, literature, comic books, documentaries, as well as more
traditional texts. We intend that the use of such texts and the
intense study of these emotional issues will stimulate you to
further deepen your interest in Asia in general.