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Transcoding as Cultural and Social Practice


Academy of Korean Studies
Institut für Koreastudien


Prof. Dr. Marion Eggert, Prof. Dr. Joerg Plassen



01.09.2014 — 31.08.2019

Transcoding as Cultural and Social Practice is a 5-year Core University Program for Korean Studies funded by the Academy of Korean Studies from 2014 until 2019 (AKS-2014-OLU-2250001). The project’s focal areas are education, research and networking. 
[Link to project homepage] 

1. Education

The consortium's objectives are related to three areas: (1) lectures and courses, (2) textbook publication, and (3) training the next generation scholars (Stepping Stone Support).

1.1. Lectures and courses

a) Joint lecture program

One obligatory elective course per semester is organised on a rotating basis primarily as a block seminar by either FU Berlin or RUB. This would ensure an integration of each institute’s special field of knowledge in their respective curricula. The course is open to undergraduate students, giving a broader perspective on Korean Studies.

b) Joint postgraduate colloquium

Freie Universität Berlin and Ruhr-Universität Bochum have a joint colloquium each semester for master and PhD students. These colloquia and the joint supervision and guidance by professors and post-doctoral researchers lead to a significant synergetic enhancement of research.

c) Joint Dissertation Supervision

The teaching staff of Freie Universität Berlin and Ruhr-Universität Bochum supervise students at both universities so that students will have quality supervision in various fields of research.

d) Post-doc development program

Teaching isboosted through post-doctoral programs as the project invites one post-doctoral fellow for half a year each year on the condition of one course being taught by the selected candidate.

e) Exchange of lecturers

To further enhance the mutual complementation of our fields of knowledge, regular exchange of lecturers between the two institutes was established. In accordance with the curricula, each institute dispatches one or two lecturers once or twice per semester.

1.2. Edition of Textbooks 

The work within the consortium revealed a significant amount of synergetic potential between the two institutes. The project would subsequently allow the consortium to complete the project on the standardization of teaching materials. In this effort both institutes cooperate closely and extend their cooperation to other German Korean Studies institutes. The FU Berlin and RU Bochum consortium plans to publish textbooks including Introduction to Korean Politics 1 & 2, Introduction to Korean Society and Culture 1 & 2, Introduction to Korean Economy, Video Lecture of Korean History, Reader for Classical Korean, Reader for History of Korean Literature, Textbook for Korean Writing and Pronunciation, Textbook for Hanmum (Classical Chinese in Korean Usage), Textbook for Hanja (Chinese Characters in Korean Language) and Unified German Terminology for Korean Grammar.

1.3. Training the Next Generation Scholars

The FU Berlin-RUB Consortium supports students who are in transition periods between BA and MA, MA and PhD, and PhD and Postdoc through scholarship, various training programs such as writing, research and presentation courses and postdoctoral fellowships.

2. Research

Continuing from the past five years’ project Circulation of Knowledge and the Dynamics of Transformation, the focus takes up a central aspect of knowledge circulation, namely the process of adaptation and translation of knowledge which we choose to label "transcoding", thus zooming in on one aspect of our prior research, but at the same time widening the realm from knowledge exchanges with the outside world to transcoding processes within Korean culture/politics/society.

"Transcoding" is not an established term within the humanities and social sciences and therefore needs some explanation. Put briefly, "transcoding" replaces the term "translation" in its – by now quite ubiquitous – metaphorical usage for acts of transposing cultural forms from one context to another, as in "policy translation" (the topic of one of our previous conferences).

We look at transcoding processes as cultural, political and social practice. Who are the actors, who/what has agency in these processes? What are the institutional settings in which they take place, and how are both actors and settings affected by them? How and through what impulses are transcoding processes generated, and what are their unwitting social effects? All these questions are of more than theoretical relevance for a culture and society subject to rapid change and situated in the vortex of the forces of globalization, as present-day Korea is, and they will help us to intensify research in areas we have touched during the first funding period, as well as open up new fields of inquiry.

We plan a series of three conferences (in addition to more informal workshops between the project members) as a means to both publicize and enrich our research efforts. While the thematic focus of the first two conferences would vary according to the main research interests of the two cooperating institutions, we would devote much attention to developing a joint heuristic framework to be tested in both conferences. This heuristic framework for our research would be further elaborated during the first project year before it is put to test in the first joint conference. The results of all three conferences would be published in edited volumes.

3. Networking

The FU Berlin – RUB consortium plays a visible role in connecting scholars and students of Korean Studies in Europe, East Asia and North America, establishing a firm network with other AKS Core universities and Seed universities such as Paris Consortium, Charles University in Prague, Yonsei University and the University of Tokyo. Through ambitious networking, the consortium organises Summer School and joint workshops with partner universities in Europe and East Asia.