The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Department of History will present a lecture titled “Strange Bedfellows? Confucian Traditions, Western-Style Learning, and the Evolution of Early Modern Korean Education, 1895‒1910” by Professor Leighanne Yuh of Korea University on Wednesday, February 15, 2017. The talk will take place in the History Department Seminar Room, Sakamaki Hall A201, beginning at 12:30 p.m.
A comparison of textbooks from 1895 and 1906 shows a shift from a state-centered narrative and a focus on the recruitment of “men of talent” to a focus on patriotism and civil duty for the preservation of national independence. Existing scholarship, Yuh says, has interpreted the textbooks and corresponding education programs only in ways that promote nationalist agendas adhering to a linear model of progress and following a trajectory beginning with the Confucian tradition and arriving at Western enlightenment values.
Yuh’s study shows that the Confucian framework still operated as a bulwark and discursive system to help state officials and intellectuals absorb “Western” ideas, but also reveals how these patterns of integration played out in the realm of education.
The categorizations of “Confucianism” and “Western learning” fit neatly into the slogan “Eastern Ways, Western Machines,” which was popular at the time in Korea, China, and Japan. Yuh’s investigation problematizes the stark division between Western and Confucian systems and explores the amalgamation of different influences.
Yuh concludes that from a broadly defined Confucian framework there emerged a particular form of civil morality that allowed intellectuals and government bureaucrats to discuss nationalism, citizenship, the public sphere, and other issues thought to be germane to a modern nation-state. Through the transformation of educational institutions, the discourses themselves evolved from those exclusively devoted to the production of competent bureaucrats to those that spoke to the broader public and engaged with this new civil morality.
Leighanne Yuh is an assistant professor in the Department of Korean History at Korea University and associate editor of The International Journal of Korean History, published by the Center for Korean Studies at Korea University. She received her Ph.D. in East Asian Studies from the University of California Los Angeles in 2008 after completing her dissertation titled, “Education and the Struggle for Power in Korea, 1876‒1910.” Yuh earned her B.A. in Japanese history and economics from Wellesley College and an M.A. in Korean History from Columbia University.
A reception for students and faculty will follow the talk. For more information, contact the Department of History at (808) 956‑8486.