East Asian Sixties 112

The 1960s were a time of radical upheaval and transformation, not only in the US, but globally. Many of us are at least superficially familiar with some of the iconic moments and movements of the era, from the Civil Rights Movement and anti-Vietnam war protest, to the emergence of rock music and the 'counterculture.' Berkeley and the Bay Area, of course, played no small part in this story. In this course, we will look at the 1960s through the lens of a very different locale: East Asia. Located at the frontline of the geopolitical divides of the Cold War, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan underwent convulsive urbanization and rapid economic growth under US-backed developmental regimes. In China, the utopian energies of Maoism fueled a political movement that dwarfed those of the West in intensity and destructive fury. While the radical hopes and violent disenchantments of those years often make the decade seem like a disavowed historical other, the 1960s remains crucial to any informed understanding of the East Asian present. In this course, we will explore the art, literature, music, and media culture of the East Asian 1960s on both sides of the Cold War divide. In what ways did East Asia participate in larger struggles for decolonization? How did the emergence of new global circuits for the distribution and consumption of ideas and images transform literary and artistic styles in the 1960s? How did the rhetoric of the era — with its emphasis on youth, immediacy, experiential intensity, sensation —  relate to technological and institutional changes in media culture?  Can we read the most distinctive artistic products of this period — from Maoist music and fashion to Taiwanese modernist fiction and musicals, and from Japanese avant-garde cinema to Hong Kong martial arts films and Korean melodramas  — not only in terms of local, but also global developments?  By the same token, is it possible to revise existing (US and Eurocentric) stories of the decade in light of the arts of the East Asian 1960s? Finally, what can the artifacts of that era (and the ways in which they are remembered now) tell us about the horizons of our own historical imagination?