Topics in East Asian Studies: "Romanticism and Asia" 204

“Realism of the heart” is how the socialist poet Im Hwa described his particular variant of colonial Korean Romanticism. In this seminar, we will investigate the constitutive role “Asia” played in the development of European Romanticism via colonialism and Orientalism in the 18th and 19th centuries and then chart the diffusion of this Romanticism to East Asia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Yet this complicated and selective reception by Asian artists requires us to rethink the correlations and correspondences between the two geographical / ideological / periodizing constructions of Europe and Asia in new, often achronological and nonlinear, directions. Pairing canonical theoretical texts from thinkers such as Rousseau, Marx, Freud, Lukács, Lacan, and Badiou with selections of original East Asian works by authors including Natsume Sōseki, Hayashi Fumiko, Yu Dafu, and Yi T’aejun, we seek both a comprehensive understanding of the global, multifaceted Romanticist movement and a healthy appreciation of how the Romantic imagination influenced and radically transformed subsequent iterations of subjectivity, collectivity, and modernity in East Asia. Examining works of poetry, prose fiction, painting, early photography, and music, we will explore such themes as nature and landscape, interiority and temporality, romantic love, childhood and youth, illness and death, supernatural and the uncanny.