Bookbag: Break dancers, Vocaloids, and Game

October 12, 2015

THE CATALYST: The popularity of break dancing, programming vocaloid music, and playing video games creates subcultures that inform both individual identity and a larger cultural identity in East Asia. Students explore these phenomena, among others, in this course created by visiting cultural anthropology professor Dwayne Dixon A.M. ’08, Ph.D. ’14.

THE GIST: “This course is concerned with two questions: The first is how do you define East Asia? And the second is how do you define youth?” says Dixon. By studying various sensations, from the globally successful Pokémon and college rankings in Korea to the practice of prostitution and the popularity of K-pop, students will peek into a motley world crafted by the youth in East Asia.

ASSIGNMENT LIST: Students watch films such as the awardwinning documentary The Great Happiness Space and Battle Royale, a Hunger Games-type movie released in 2003, in addition to readings from books and online blogs. This writing-based course culminates in what Dixon calls an “experimental” pedagogical platform: Scalar. The website connects all the assignments so students can focus on synergies.

THE TWIST: This course is about more than just kids; it’s also about how adults actively participate in youth culture. “Youth is often the site of greatest panic and the site of greatest change,” says Dixon.

  • Madeline Taylor is an intern. She is a sophomore involved in the arts on Duke's campus.