The Right Tools
Borne out of a desire to treat Korean Studies subjects with the critical tools offered by Cultural Studies, Ethnic Studies, Women's Studies, and brought in from the remote reaches of Critical Theory, the operational logic of this endeavor is that South Korean culture on the Periphery, much to the surprise and even chagrin of many, has aroused the interest of the Center. It would stand to reason that since so much of the academic interest in Korean culture revolves around contemporary cultural texts and rapid social change that is ideologically argued on the level of mediated representation, the field should concentrate of maximally utilizing tools to tackle such subjects, since the days in which the main interests in things Korean were primarily locate in the orthodox epistemologies of History, Economics, Literature and Anthropology have certainly passed.Our program does draw heavily from the heady theory of Cultural Studies, while remembering to keep itself squarely grounded in real and worldly concerns.
As we build a new approach in the field and a new kind of virtual institution in Korean Studies, we aim to create content that theoretically parses Korean society and culture in the sense of a "Korean Studies", with a special emphasis to a concrete academic/epistemilogical/pedagogical approach that works to blend theory, method, and practice in the presentation of social data across different media. Towards this end, we see pure, heady theory ias something that should be applicable in the field, with thought given to how work can be carried out in terms of actual research methodology. We think of this as one might three legs of a tripod, with each component no less or more important than any other. This will be of great importance for our project, based as it is in Korea, as this adds credence to the idea that Korean Studies in an age when Korean culture has become truly global (as have its cultural texts, which now receive global attention) is best conducted in Korea, at least to some extent. Whether Korea is, for you, a place to carry out fieldwork or the place that gives necessary context to your academic training, our philosophy is to emphasize the Korea in Korean Studies as more than just a place for an academic gaze to be fixed, but rather as the key critical context in which to engage in an analysis of things Korean in the most intellectually relevant and useful ways. Our program's main goal is to:
"promote and engage in academic study in Korea that is grounded in academic praxis and experiential epistemological approaches, while eschewing the tendency for programs within this country to construct tourist-brochure, culturally chauvinistic modes of national promotion or similar kinds of academic projects merely disguised as 'Korean Studies.'"