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Representing Women

 

A Korean newspaper ad from the 1920s depicts “modern” women at a café or bar, fashionably dressed and smoking cigarettes. The product being promoted: a treatment for venereal disease.

Such cultural artifacts, and the animated discussions they spark about gender constructs or images, are typical classroom fare for Professor Jin-Kyung Park (photo right), a new Humanities faculty member who teaches in both Women’s Studies and the new Global Asia Studies program.

Responding to world events as well as keen interest from the local community, Global Asia Studies is a unique undergraduate program that explores the growing economic, political and cultural influence of East and South Asia. Cutting across geographic boundaries, the program blends a range of multidisciplinary perspectives – including history, religion, law, media, art, languages and literature – to illuminate the region’s current social realities, along with those of the Asian diaspora.

This exciting addition to Humanities at UTSC promotes the deeper understanding of Asia that more and more students see as vital to their futures, while also perhaps making a connection to their pasts. Professor Park studies the history around issues of gender and the status of women in Korea and East Asia generally, with a specific focus on the socio-cultural aspects of medicine, science and technology. She completed two degrees in her native Korea before moving to the U.S., where she earned a PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Currently completing a cultural history of gynecological disease in Korea under Japanese colonial rule (1910–1945), Park will next be examining the history of reproductive technologies and in/fertility in modern Korea.

At the same time, she’ll continue inspiring those lively class discussions: “Students on the multicultural and multiethnic UTSC campus have a deep interest in the historical formations of gender identity, issues of equity in the colonial past, and cultural representations of women in Asian societies and the diaspora – including in Canada. It’s a pleasure to play a role in meeting their intellectual needs while capitalizing on my areas of expertise.”




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