Syllabus for East Asian Popular Music

This coming Fall, I am excited to teach a course at Brown University that I designed from scratch: “East Asian Popular Music.” Here’s a snippet from the course description:

This course provides a critical overview of the production, reception, and circulation of East Asian popular music. The course applies broad themes—nationalism, race, gender, diaspora, technology, and globalization—to specific case studies in Japan, North and South Korea, Mainland China, Taiwan, and areas outside of this region where the music circulates. Case studies include K-Pop, Japanese hip hop, karaoke, mainland Chinese rock, Taiwanese pop, the Super Girl competition, and Hatsune Miku. Throughout the course, you will encounter ideas from scholarly works in ethnomusicology, popular music studies, history, and media studies. You will also encounter ideas from documentaries, blog posts, music reviews, music videos, and music albums. By the end of the course, you will be aware of issues and themes related to East Asian popular music, and you will also develop familiarity with different approaches to analyzing popular culture.

Here’s a full list of the assigned readings:


Baranovitch, Nimrod. 2003a. “Popular Music and State Politics: Hegemony, Resistance, Symbiosis, and Unity.” In China’s New Voices: Popular Music, Ethnicity, Gender, and Politics, 1978-1997. Oakland: University of California Press.

Chin, Timothy. 2006. “Notes on Reggae Music, Diaspora Aesthetics, and Chinese Jamaican Transmigrancy: The Case of VP Records” Social and Economic Studies 55(2).

Condry, Ian. 2006. Hip Hop Japan: Rap and the Paths of Cultural Globalization. Durham: Duke University Press.

Daisuke, Inoue and Robert Scott. 12.3.2013. “Voice Hero: The Inventor of Karaoke Speaks.” The Appendix.

De Kloet, Jeroen. 2006. “Sonic Sturdiness: The Globalization of ‘‘Chinese’’ Rock and Pop.” Critical Studies in Media Communication. 22(4).

Epstein, Stephen. 2015. ‘“Into the New World’: Girls’ Generation from the Local to the Global.” In K-Pop: The International Rise of the Korean Music Industry (Eds. JungBong Choi & Roald Maliangkay). Routledge.

Groenewegen-Lau, Jeroen. 2014. “Steel and Strawberries: How Chinese Rock Became State Sponsored.” Asian Music 45(1): 3-33.

Ho, Wai-chung. 2007. “Music and Cultural Politics in Taiwan.” International Journal of Cultural Studies. 10(4).

Howard, Keith. 2002. “Exploding Ballads: The Transformation of Korean Pop Music,” In Global Goes Local (Eds. Tim Craig & Richard King). Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Huang, Hao. 2001. “Yaogun Yinyue: Rethinking Mainland Chinese Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Popular Music. 20(1): 1-11.

Huang, Yu. 2014. From ‘Talent Show’ to ‘Circusee’: Chinese Youth Resistant Acts and Strategies in the Super Girl Voice Phenomenon.” Critical Arts: A South-North Journal of Cultural and Media Studiess 28(1).

Hutchinson, Sydney. 2016. “Asian Fury: A Tale of Race, Rock, and Air Guitar.” Ethnomusicology 60(3): 411-433.

Jackson, Louise & Mike Dines. 2016. “Vocaloids and Japanese Virtual Vocal Performance: The Cultural Heritage and Technological Futures of Vocal Puppetry.” Oxford Handbook of Music and Virtuality.

Jung, Eun-Young. 2006. “Articulating Korean Youth Culture through Global Popular Music Styles: Seo Taiji’s Use of Rap and Metal.” In Korean Pop Music: Riding the Wave. Edited Volume. BRILL/Global Oriental.

Kastin, David. 2010. “Fred Ho and the Evolution of Afro-Asian New American Multicultural Music.” Popular Music & Society 33(1): 1-8.

King, Richard and Tim Craig. 2007. “Asia and Global Popular Culture: The View from He Yong’s Garbage Dump.” In Global Goes Local (eds. Richard King and Tim Craig). Toronto: UBC Press.

Lie, John. 2014. 2014a. K-Pop: Popular Music, Cultural Amnesia, and Economic Innovation in South Korea. Oakland: University of California Press.

–. 2014b. “Why Didn’t ‘Gangnam Style’ Go Viral in Japan?: Gender Divide and Subcultural Heterogeneity in Contemporary Japan.” Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review 9: 44-67.

Manabe, Noriko. 2013. “Representing Japan: ‘National’ Style Among Japanese Hip-Hop DJs.” Popular Music 32(1): 35-50.

Matusitz, Jonathan. 2010. “Semiotics of Music: Analysis of Cui Jian’s ‘Nothing to My Name’, the Anthem for the Chinese Youths in the Post-Cultural Revolution Era.” Journal of Popular Culture 43(1): 156-175.

McLeod, Ken. 2013. “Afro-Samurai: Techno-Orientalism and Contemporary Hip Hop.” Popular Music 32(2): 259-275.

Moskowitz, Marc. 2009. “Mandopop Under Siege: Culturally Bound Criticisms of Taiwan’s Pop Music.” Popular Music 28(1): 69-83.

Otake, Akiko & Shuhei Hosokawa. 1998. “Karaoke in East Asia: Modernization, Japanization, or Asianization?” In Karaoke Around the World. (eds. Toru Mitsui & Shuhei Hosokawa). London: Routledge.

Otmazgin, Nissim and Irina Lyan. 2014. “Hallyu Across the Desert: K-pop Fandom in Israel and Palestine.” Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review 3(1).

Russell, Mark James. 2008. Pop Goes Korea: Behind the Revolution in Movies, Music, and Internet Culture. Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press.

Steinfeld, Jemimah. March 15, 2015. “China’s First Female Punk Band Broke Stereotypes.”

St. Michel, Patrick. 2013. “Gangnam Squabbles: Why Asia’s Pop-Music Superpowers Are Trading Disses.” The Atlantic. February 13, 2013.

Taylor, Jeremy. 2004. “Pop Music as Postcolonial Nostalgia in Taiwan.” In Refashioning Pop Music in Asia:  Cosmopolitan Flows, Political Tempos, and Aesthetic Industries. New York: Routledge.

Verini, James. 2012. “How Virtual Reality Pop Star Hatsune Miku Blew Up in Japan.” Wired. October 9, 2012.

Wong, Deborah. 1994. ‘“I want the microphone’: Mass Mediation and Agency in Asian-American Popular Music.” TDR 38(3): 152-167.

Yang, Ling. 2009. “All for Love: The Corn Fandom, Prosumers, and the Chinese Way of Creating a Superstar.” International Journal of Cultural Studies 12(5): 527–543.

Yano, Christine. 1996. “The Floating World of Karaoke in Japan.” Popular Music and Society 20(2): 1-17.

Zaborowski, Rafal. 2016. “Hatsune Miku and Japanese Virtual Idols.” Oxford Handbook of Music and Virtuality.

Zhou, Xun, and Tarocco, Francesca. 2007. Karaoke: The global phenomenon. London: Reaktion.

I’m also adding a handful of great media, such as Radiolab’s “K-Poparazzi” episode, Shaun Jefford’s Beijing Punk, Sameer Farooq and Ursula Engel’s Silk Road of Pop, and Hang on the Box’s album Yellow Banana.

%d bloggers like this: