Armytage Open Lecture

English Studies in Asia, Does It Make Sense?

Chankil Park(Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)


February 25, 2016



Table of Contents





1. The "Crisis" Narrative of English Studies in Anglophone Academia


2. A Story of Korean Universities: Crisis or Not?


3. The Identity Crisis of English Scholars in Asia: English Teacher or Scholar?


4. The English Scholar as a Translator of Culture


5. The English Scholar, a Local Agent responsible for imparting the ideology of postcolonial colonialism?


6. A Personal Recollection: Military Dictatorship in Korea(1961-87) and University Student's Role in Democratization Movement of Korea


7. William Wordsworth, a Revolutionary Poet


8. Lord Byron and the Value of the "Otherness"


9. The "Utility" of Romantic Education: the Idea of Bildung


Concluding Remarks with a short introduction to EPASIA(English Portal Asia)


Quoted Passages




The humanities today seem the victim of a perfect storm. Budget cuts stemming from a persistent recession, accompanied by the defunding of public institutions of higher education through shrinking tax revenue, have threatened humanities programs everywhere. The corporatization of higher education has increasingly turned university presidents into CEOs, and academic administrators into upper management. The decisions they make regarding academic programs are increasingly driven by boards of trustees dominated by businessmen, bankers, and financial consultants whose bottom-line methods of operation are taking precedence over the traditional role faculty have played in determining academic and curricular programs. In this context, higher education is increasingly seen in sheerly instrumental terms, with courses and programs judged in terms of their pragmatic and vocational value. Education that ends in credentializing seems to be trumping education as an end in itself. For many, the teaching of practical skills is becoming more important than making sure students have a basic knowledge of history, philosophy, literature, and the arts. With the value of education being measured more and more by the economic payoff that comes after graduation, it is becoming difficult for many to understand the value of a humanities education(Jay 1).






Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,


But to be young was very Heaven! ...


When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights


When most intent on making of herself


A prime enchanter to assist the work,


Which then was going forwards in her name!


(William Wordsworth, The Prelude, 1805, Book X, ll.108-109, 113-116)






O for the coming of that glorious time


When, prizing knowledge as her noblest wealth


And best protection, this imperial Realm,


While she exacts allegiance, shall admit


And obligation, on her part, to teach


Them who are born to serve her and obey;


(William Wordsworth, The Excursion, 1814, Book IX, ll. 293-298)






What a beastly and pitiful wretch that Wordsworth! That such a man should be such a poet!


(Shelley’s Letter to Thomas Peacock dated July 25, 1818)






When Englishmen by thousands were o'erthrown,


Left without glory on the field, or driven,


Brave hearts! to shameful flight. It was a grief,


Grief call it not, 'twas anything but that,-


A conflict of sensations without name,...


And, 'mid the simple worshippers, perchance,


I only, like an uninvited guest


Whom no one owned, sate silent, shall I add,


Fed on the day vengeance yet to come?


(William Wordsworth, The Prelude, 1805, Book X, ll.262-266, 272-275)






Fit retribution - Gaul may champ the bit


And foam in fetters - but is Earth more free?


Did nations combat to make One submit:


Or league to teach all kings true Sovereignty?


What! shall reviving Thraldom again be


The patched-up Idol of enlightened days?


Shall we, who struck the Lion down, shall we


Pay the wolf homage? proffering lowly gaze


And servile knees to thrones? No; prove before ye praise!


(George Gordon Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage Canto III, Stanza 19, ll 163-171)






Ungrateful Florence! Dante sleeps afar,


Like Scipio, buried by the upbraiding shore:


Thy factions, in their worse than civil war,


Proscribed the Bard whose name forevermore


Their children's children would in vain adore


With the remorse of ages; and the crown


Which Petrarch's laureate brow supremely wore,


Upon a far and foreign soil had grown,


His Life, his Fame, his Grave, though rifled -not thine own.


(George Gordon Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage Canto IV, Stanza 57, ll. 505-513)






France was like a dog/ Returning to his vomit.(William Wordsworth, The Prelude, 1805, Book X, l. 935)






This word(Bildung) signifies two processes--learning and personal growth--but they are not understood apart from one another, as if education were only a means to growth. Rather, learning is taken to be constitutive of personal development, as part and parcel of how we become a human being in general and a specific individual in particular. If we regard education as part of a general process of self-realization--as the development of all one's characteristic powers as a human being and as an individual--...they(the romantics) insisted that self-realization is an end in itself...the very purpose of existence(Beiser 91-92)






It may be urged that every individual man carries within himself, at least in his adaptation and destination, a purely ideal man. The great problem of his existence is to bring all the incessant changes of his outer life into conformity with the unchanging unity of this ideal. (Schiller 24)






What made Wordsworth's poems a medicine for my state of mind was that they expressed, not outward beauty but states of feeling, and of thought coloured by feeling, under the excitement of beauty. They seemed to be the very culture of the feelings which was in quest of. By their means I seemed to draw from s cource of inward joy, of sympathetic and imaginative pleasure, which could be shared in by all human beings, which had no connection with struggle or imperfection, but would be made richer by every improvement in the physical or social condition of mankind. (Mill 150)






He could afford to suffer/ With those whom he saw suffer.(William Wordsworth, The Excursion, Book First, ll. 371-72)






The future expansion of English studies will mostly occur outside the discipline’s traditional Anglophone and European bas. We are approaching a turning point at which, in strictly quantitative terms, the most consequential decisions about what and how we teach will be made on the seeming peripheries of the discipline. This represents an opportunity for all of us in the field to unsettle the established pattern of time-lag emulation, whereby the literary curriculum at a university in Seoul resembles that of a university in New York 30 years earlier. The tail of foreign variants is becoming long enough to wag the dog of domestic English lit. The English departments in East Asia, only just now beginning to test the water of Anglophone Asian literatures, could have much to contribute to the future of that burgeoning field.


(English 191)








Bate, Jonathan. ed. The Public Value of The Humanities. Bloomsbury, 2010.


Beiser, Frederick C. The Romantic Imperative, Harvard UP, 2003.


Chilton, Myles. English Studies Beyond the 'Center': Teaching literature and the future of global English. Routledge, 2016.


Cote, James E. and Anton L. Allahar. Lowering Higher Education: The Rise of Corporate Universities and the Fall of Liberal Education, Toronto UP, 2011.


Ginsberg, Benjamin. The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters. Oxford UP, 2011.


English, James. The Global Future of English Studies. Eiley-Blackwell, 2012.


Hewings, Ann, Lynda Prescott, and Philip Seargeant. Futures for English Studies. Palgrave, 2016.


Jay, Paul. The Humanities "Crisis" and The Future of Literary Studies, Palgrave, 2014.


Lewis, Harry R. Excellence Without A Soul: Does Liberal Education Have a Future? Public Affairs. 2006.


Mill, John Stuart. John M. Robson and Jack Stillinger eds. Autobiography and Literary Essays. Toronto UP, 1981.


Nussbaum, Martha C. Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs The Humanities. Princeton UP, 2010.


O'Sullivan, Michael, David Huddart and Carmen Lee. eds. The Future of English in Asia: Perspectives on language and literature. Routledge, 2016.


Readings, Bill. The University in Ruins. Harvard UP, 1996.


Schiller, Friedrich. Tapio Riikonen and David Widger. eds. The Project Guterberg EBook, The Aesthetical Essays, Letters IV, 2006.


Schrecker, Ellen. The Lost Soul of Higher Education: Corporatization, the Assault on Academic Freedom, and the End of the American University. The New Press, 2010.



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