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ASIA201 Asian Popular Cultures

ASIA201 image

Course Coordinator: Dr. Paola Voci

Course Structure and Content
Both from the economic and the cultural points of view, Asia has become a vital part of New Zealand life. With a focus on popular culture and through an analysis of different media, this paper will help students gain a greater awareness of multiculturalism, by exploring the heterogeneous nature of Asianess, beginning to understand its complexity, and pointing to its relevance in the global context. Students will learn aspects of Asian popular culture and therefore gain an appreciation of the cultural context that informs much of the contemporary events in Asia that the Asian Studies Majors learn in the other courses of the major. In addition, students will be able to view or read some samples of these different cultural practices and engage with the scholarship on the various topics. Thus the course also intends to impart to students the ability to critically analyze scholarship in the interdisciplinary field of media and film studies, as well as the performing arts and anthropology.

The course analyses the role and the significance of popular culture in different Asian geopolitical areas. The first part of the class is structured on country-focused units on China, India and Japan; the second part explores Asian popular cultures’ transnational and global issues via an analysis of popular film genre (martial arts), celebrities (e.g., Bruce Lee), media convergences (TV dramas), and remakes (e.g., Infernal Affairs/The Departed).

The paper is fully internally assessed.

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An exploration of contemporary Asia through the analysis of popular culture, with a focus on the media’s role in constructing transnational Asian modernities.

Asia has become a vital part of New Zealand life. Why do we consider this to be the ‘Asian century’? How does popular culture crucially contribute to Asia's changing and growing role in the world? How are Asian celebrities, popular film genres, music phenomena produced and circulated in the transnational media environment and how do they contribute to cultural, economic, social, politicalchanges in Asia and beyond?

Through an analysis of different media and different regions, this paper will help students gain a better understanding of Asia and its relevance in the global context.

Paper title Asian Popular Cultures
Paper code ASIA201
Subject Asian Studies
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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36 points
Schedule C
Arts and Music
Suitable for students specialising in any discipline.

Convenor: Professor Paola Voci

Teaching staff

Convenor: Professor Paola Voci

Paper Structure

The course analyses the role and the significance of popular culture in Asia. More specifically, we focus on,

  1. The relationship between cinema and the nation (with case studies from China, Japan and India).
  2. Transnational Asian popular culture phenomena (with case studies from Martial Arts, Anime, Hallyuwood and K-pop).
  3. Asian popular cultures and transmedia global storytelling in Hollywood, Netflix, and Disney.
All required readings are available for you as electronic reserve at the University of Otago Library as well as on Blackboard.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
By participating in lectures, tutorials, and screenings, students will gain:
  • An appreciation of various forms of popular cultures (e.g. cinema, music, TV) in the Asian region and their national/transnational features
  • A critical understanding of mainstream as well as marginal and countercultures practices
  • An awareness of the complex issues involved in cultural translations and how an interdisciplinary approach can enhance the study of the region within and beyond the East-West problematic opposition
By reading the assigned material and completing the assigned tasks, students will develop:
  • A capacity for critical analysis of scholarship on issues related to Asian popular cultures and Asian studies more broadly
  • An ability to independently investigate a specific particular cultural form in the Asian region, understand its meaning in context and explain its role and importance within and beyond the Asian geopolitical and cultural boundaries

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 14:00-15:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Thursday 09:00-09:50 28-34, 36-41