Jooyeon Rhee

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Jooyeon Rhee

Jooyeon Rhee

Associate Professor of Asian Studies and Comparative Literature, Director of the Institute for Korean Studies, and Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Asian Studies

Becoming a good scholar is like becoming a good marathoner. It is important to maintain stability in pace, stamina, and intellectual vigor the whole time. 

It is not a secret that modern Korean literature, the popular literature that Jooyeon deals with, was influenced by European and American literature, but what is interesting is that writers and readers about a century ago received foreign culture with such enthusiasm. Koreans’ desire to know about other cultures was manifest in numerous translations of European and American literature. When many believe that countries in East Asia were not eager to contact the West, this example forces us to approach cultural history objectively by considering historical actors and objects that were previously marginalized. The open-minded attitude toward foreign culture has often led to the emergence of innovative, creative, and engaging art forms, and this was the case in Korea about a hundred years ago despite Japanese occupation. 

“My familiarity with the South Korean education system, institutional practices, and academic trends has proven to be extremely useful for directing The Institute for Korean Studies at Penn State, which aims to develop our Korean studies as a top-quality program in North America and establish constructive relationships with educational institutes and academic communities in South Korea. My research background comes in handy for my involvement with community outreach programs such as presenting lectures, curating events, and connecting students with local communities and resources for educational initiatives focused on Korea.”

“I am currently writing my second book on Korean detective fiction and its connection with Euro-American detective fiction, and I have undertaken my third book-length research on food in literature and film, investigating how representations of food, eating, drinking, and cooking can tell us something novel about body, identity, and empathy in modern Korea.”

Read more about Jooyeon Rhee

Student Impact in the Classroom

“I use my own publications on Korean literature, film, popular culture, and diaspora studies in my classrooms, and I encourage students to engage with these writings critically by providing verbal and written responses. I usually include at least one workshop on research methods and essay writing where I use my own research process, ranging from finalizing a topic to correcting premises and writing as an example. I encourage students to think about questions that I also struggle to answer in my research. When I teach a class on detection and mystery in world literature, for example, I ask students some questions that I also deal with in my research, and I find that, despite challenging questions about narrative strengths/flaws, ethics, gender relations, etc., students answer the questions with interesting angles and refreshing observations about which I have never thought. I think that this kind of dialogue with researchers is intellectually stimulating for students. I also invite students to participate in academic events and projects such as workshops and lectures on Korean culture and the production of virtual class materials on my research topic.” –Jooyeon Rhee

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