History of China, Korea and Japan: Dragon Robes, Hanbok and Kimono 1800-1912

Ref: C3746894

Porcelains, lacquers and silks were goods of desire in the west. With expanding political and trade networks came a fascination with China, the dominant power in the region. In 1793 the Qianlong Emperor expelled British merchants and diplomats explaining that they had nothing that China needed. The west viewed Japan as an artistic country newly opened to trade in the 1850s. However, it was a rapidly rising power that used western technologies to assert a Japanese presence on the global stage. Caught between a waning China and waxing Japan was Korea, a country that had been so secretive towards the west that it was dubbed ‘the Hermit Kingdom’, yet one that also sought to project its own image on the global stage. In this course, we will look at the material culture of these three countries to consider how they were intertwined politically and culturally. The period that we’re covering, 1800-1912, considers how the delicate balance between these three was decimated.

Course aim

In this course we will explore the relationship between China, Korea and Japan between 1800-1912 through the lens of material culture, considering how they were intertwined politically, historically, and culturally.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • An understanding of the cultural differences between China, Korea and Japan.
  • An understanding of their complex political relationships.
  • An understanding the shifting power dynamics in the region, specifically between China and Japan.
  • By considering the distinctive material culture of each country we will explore ideas of cultural difference and exchange.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

I would recommend a look through Lafayette University's excellent East Asian image collection (https://dss.lafayette.edu/collections/east-asia-image-collection/) just to gain a familiarity with China, Japan and Korea in the later part of the period that we'll be covering.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

History of China, Korea and Japan: Dragon Robes, Hanbok and Kimono 1800-1912


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

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Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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