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Men and Masculinities in Contemporary East Asia


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: Jonathan D. Mackintosh
  • Assessment: a 5000-word essay (100%)

Module description

The study of men in the contemporary culture areas of Japan, (South) Korea, and China (Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the People's Republic of China) has blossomed in recent years. This course offers an exciting opportunity to explore from a comparative and theoretically informed perspective the articulation of male identity in East Asia. Critically crossing the axes of traditional and modern, East and West, global and indigenous, the course focuses on the complex interplay between representation and self-representation - the ways individuals negotiate interpellating discourses to produce meanings of a male self - in societies that share much historically and culturally.

This course is organised thematically and will interrogate, as a point of departure, varying models of 'hegemonic masculinity' and contemporary patriarchy across the regions of East Asia. It will look at the agencies generally associated with the production and dissemination of normalising discourses of gender, for example, institutions of education, health, the military, politics, and the national economy. Turning attention to how men experience, perceive, construct, and then represent themselves as men, 'sub-altern' and other identities that complicate and challenge the hegemonic model will be examined. These include the male performances specific to different socio-cultural classes, men as a media aesthetic, and finally, male-male practices of varying sexualities ranging from the homo-social to the homo-sexual.

Finally, we will consider diasporic East Asian masculinities and especially those in the Anglo-American context. Our objective is to deconstruct the Western colonial gaze that still often characterises popular and scholarly perceptions of East Asia and that continues to be informed by an understanding of East Asian masculinities as a 'feminine principle' and 'neutered Other'.

All texts used for this course are in English (translation); there is no Japanese language requirement.