Our Updated Crazy Schedule

Hi folks. I think we have no more random, surprise days off, but we do have 3 weeks of classtime left. So I figured it might be time to update our schedule, and add some of the readings I’d like you to complete over the next few weeks:


31 May hour 1 and 2 — discussion of reading:

Please read the following texts:

  • Berit Framnes’s blog post, “Working to live or living to work?” — a post by an American living and working in Norway, about differences between working in Norway and in America.
  • “The World’s Hardest-Working Countries” from Forbes Magazine. This is an article attempting to explain Korea’s work culture to Westerners, particularly Americans. You should think about the implicit differences suggested by how Korea’s corporate environment is described.
  • “Nationalism and Productivity: The Myth Behind The Korean Work Ethic” by Su Kwak, from the Harvard Asia Pacific Review (I think in 2002). Consider the emphasis of the article and what is implied by the article regarding differences with business in the English-speaking world.
  • Here are a couple of links to sites that claim to offer information for Americans who want to do business with Koreans. (This one, and this one.) Have a look and, once again, read for implication: what do these pages of information suggest about American or other Anglophone countries’ business cultures?)

2 June — Panel Discussion:

Working for a Living
Koreans work more than anyone else in the OECD, including, obviously, most of the English-speaking world. However, this “cultural difference” is, like most of the others we have discussed in the past, far from eternal or essential. In this discussion, students will address the ways in which the current status of work in Korean life is much more similar to the status of work in the lives of Anglophones in past times. This comparison will serve to help facilitate a discussion of whether the social significance of work, in the process of modernization, necesarily goes through the kinds of transformations seen in the Anglophone world, as well as where students think Korea is headed in terms of the social understanding of Work.

(Issues of gender, race, and power can also come into the discussion, but the main focus will be on disputing the uniqueness of the circumstances, and the justifications for, the status of work in the lives of contemporary Koreans.)

7 June hour 1 — Discussion of readings:

7 June hour 2 — Panel Discussion:

Language and Society
As discussed on 2 June, the significance of language — and the politics of language — came into question very widely in the English-speaking world during the 1980s. Language politics, as related to gender, racial, and “identity” politics, came under strong consideration, for example with feminists questioning the sexism that was inherent in English grammar. (Such as using “he” for plural when discussing mixed-gender groups of people.

Questions regarding the relationship between language and social structure, language and social problems, and how coonsciously changing language can change (or improve) society will be the focus of this discussion. While it is fine for students to discuss the Korean case, they are also expected to discuss examples from the English-speaking world as well.

9 June — Panel Discussion:

Play, Leisure, and Identity
The 19th and 20th centuries, but especially the 20th, were times in which the idea of popular entertainment — though it was not new at the time — exploded into prominence and unparalleled importance in the English-speaking world. The status of, and understanding of the place of, “play” became suddenly important and a powerful part of how people in the English-speaking world engaged with their society, with the world, and with the formulation of their own identities.

This panel discussion will address how sports, film, and television came to occupy this position of significance, whether play necessarily occupies such a role in modernity, and whether the overt role of entertainment in Korea’s Chun Dictatorship is really so different from the role entertainment plays in the Anglophone world today.

NOTE: There will be assigned readings for this panel discussion, but no in-class discussion of the readings. The readings are TBA.

14 June hour 1 — Discussion of readings:

14 June hour 2 — Panel Discussion

Power & Resistance
Students will discuss the ways in which people in the English-speaking world specifically understand their relationship to power, be it corporate, governmental, or other authorities. The discussion may range from forms of protest, grassroots social movements, but also the especially American hobby of conspiracy theories. Why do conspiracy theories appeal to modern Anglophone societies? With the work of Philip K. Dick having become so mainstream that it has helped to define modern Hollywood cinema, has paranoia and the struggle over power become mere entertainment?

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