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The Early Modern in East Asia: The Challenges of Periodization

Can we apply a standard periodization scheme across East Asia? Historians of China, Japan, and Korea examine economic and cultural networks, environmental patterns, intellectual trends, state structures and practices, and contemporary debates on "the nation".

February 1, 2008 12:00am

Recently the concept of the "early modern" has undergone a reevaluation, not necessarily to dismiss its suitability but rather to expand its utility in thinking about the larger narratives of modernity (and hence also "premodernity"), universality, and world history. While the early modern concept has found a niche roughly corresponding to the mid-15th to mid-19th centuries in the West, for East Asian historians there has been a halting response to this notion, for the East Asian historical trajectory (even for Japan, which seems most similar) resists easy divisions according to established periodization.

This one-day symposium seeks to gather the thoughts of East Asian historians whose research inspires thinking about the early modern, and to use this gathering as a forum for extended discussions about periodization in East Asian history -- indeed to wonder whether it is possible to apply a standard periodization scheme for East Asia as a whole.

9:00 - 9:10 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks

9:00 - 10:50 a.m. East Asia and the Early Modern World

John Wills Jr., USC
“Some Earlier Divergences: China-Europe Differences that Mattered, Han to Ming”

Robert Marks, Whittier College
“Early Modern or Late Imperial: An Environmental Perspective”

Richard von Glahn, UCLA
“An East Asian Early Modernity? Kinsei in Japanese Scholarship on Japanese and Chinese History”

11:00 a.m. - 12:10 p.m. Consciousness and Culture

Samuel Yamashita, Pomona
“Reimagining the Intellectual Landscape of  'Early Modern Japan”

Jahyun Kim Haboush, Columbia University
“Discourse of 'Nation' in Chosôn Korea: Early Modern?”

1:30 - 2:40 p.m. Interactions

John Duncan, UCLA
“From External Stimulus to Internal Integration in Late Koryo and Early ChosonKorea”

Kenneth Pomeranz,  UC Irvine
“Early Modern Networks Without an Early Modern Period-or is it the Other Way Around?”

3:00 - 4:40 p.m.    Authority Structures

R. Bin Wong, UCLA
“The Eighteenth-century Qing State: Fantasies and Fallacies of the 'Early Modern'”

Kyung Moon Hwang, USC
“Constructions of State and Society in the Late Chosôn”

Morgan Pitelka, Occidental College
“Afterlives of the Shogun: Tokugawa Ieyasu’s Material Legacy in Early Modern Japan”

4:40 - 5:00 p.m. Closing Discussion

Sponsored by the East Asia Seminar of the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute, and the USC Department of History, East Asian Studies Center, and Korean Studies Institute at USC

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