Past Event

Queering the Straits: Unruly Subjects Across Modern Korean and Japanese Studies, Series One: Remembering the ‘Modern Boy’: Gender, Empire, and Nostalgia

February 20, 2021
7:00 PM - 9:45 PM
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The first workshop of the series, “REMEMBERING THE ‘MODERN BOY’: GENDER, EMPIRE, AND NOSTALGIA,” will take place over the weekend of 19–21 February 2021. (See below for a detailed schedule.) The initial workshop offers a context for tracing the normative operations of gender across the past century of Korean and Japanese history by examining contending formations not of homosexual but of heterosexual masculinity. It focuses on the figure of the “modern boy” (known locally by such names as modan bōimodŏn ppoi, and mobo), a prominent challenger to early twentieth-century codes of orthodox masculinity and a ubiquitous presence in stereotypical depictions of imperial Japan and colonial Korea alike. Compared to such female contemporaries as the “modern girl” and “new woman,” this conspicuous male performer of non-normative gender remains remarkably understudied, a silence that the present workshop seeks to explain as well as to fill. A panel of five speakers and six distinguished commenters will approach the “modern boy” from a variety of chronological and disciplinary perspectives, addressing such questions as the role of mass media in circulating gender stereotypes, the isomorphisms and asymmetries of gender hegemony and state power, and the functions of colonial nostalgia.

Preregistration is required for this event. We particularly invite the participation of scholars whose work focuses on gender and sexuality in East Asia. Subsequent workshops will address the themes of “Cross-Strait Cultures: Performance, Media, and History” (April 2021) and “Development and Desire Across Uneven Spaces” (Fall 2021).

To register, please fill out our RSVP form

A few days before the start of the workshop, we will send an email to all registered participants with a link to the event. If you have any questions or trouble with registration, please email us at [email protected]

For more information including the full schedule of the workshop, please click here.

This series of workshops is funded by the Academy of Korean Studies; the Center for Korean Research at Columbia University; the Columbia University Alumni Association of Korea; the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture (Columbia); the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures (Columbia); the Hajime Mori Chair in Japanese Language and Literature at the University of California, San Diego; Transnational Korean Studies (UCSD); and the Weatherhead East Asian Institute (Columbia). The organizers thank these institutions and individuals for their generous support.


Todd Henry, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of California, San Diego

Greg Pflugfelder, Associate Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures & Department of History, Columbia University

Sunday, 21 February, 9:00 - 11:45 AM, Seoul/Tokyo time *


9:00 - 9:15 | Response to Session A

Vera Mackie, Senior Professor of Asian and International Studies, University of Wollongong




9:15 - 9:35 | “Marx and Modernity: Models of Masculinity in Interwar Japan”

Katherine Capuder, PhD Student, Department of History, University of California, Los Angeles


9:35 - 9:55 | “Colonial Critique and Nostalgia in Modern Boy (2008) and The Handmaiden (2016)”

Keung Yoon (Becky) Bae, Postdoctoral Fellow, Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University




9:55 - 10:10

Elise Tipton, Honorary Associate Professor of Japanese Studies, University of Sydney


10:10 - 10:25

Tani Barlow, George and Nancy Rupp Professor of Humanities, Rice University


10:25 - 11:45 | General Discussion

New York – Friday & Saturday, 7:00–9:45 PM
Chicago – Friday & Saturday, 6:00–8:45 PM
Los Angeles – Friday & Saturday, 4:00–6:45 PM

Honolulu – Friday & Saturday, 2:00–4:45 PM
Sydney – Saturday & Sunday, 10:00 AM–12:45 PM
Hong Kong / Perth – Saturday & Sunday, 8:00–10:45 AM

London – Saturday & Sunday, midnight–2:45 AM
Berlin / Paris / Rome – Saturday & Sunday, 1:00–3:45 AM