Kyoungjin Bae joined the Department of History in Spring 2019. As a historian of late imperial China, she is interested in understanding Chinese history from the perspectives of Eurasian connections, the history of science and technology, and visual and material culture. Prior to joining Kenyon, Kyoungjin held two postdoctoral fellowships at the Liberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan and at the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Hong Kong. She is currently working on her first book manuscript, titled "The Flowing Mechanism: Furniture, Craft, and Knowledge in Sino-European Exchanges, 1700-1850."

Areas of Expertise

Late imperial China, the history of science and technology, visual and material culture, early modern
Sino-European exchanges, global history.


2016 — Doctor of Philosophy from Columbia University

2012 — Master of Arts from Columbia University

2006 — Bachelor of Arts from Yonsei Univ, Seoul, Korea

Courses Recently Taught

The arrival of the Portuguese ships off the coasts of China and Japan in the 16th century, followed by other European merchants, turned East Asia into a major theater of events shaping the emerging modern age. This course examines the sources and dynamics of change -- social, economic, geopolitical, and cultural -- in the local and intramural arenas of East Asia as its economies and peoples became entangled in the rise and expansion of Euro-American imperial enterprises. The changes were violent and transformative, leaving deep impressions. Local understandings of past events continue to animate domestic politics and regional relations in the global competition for survival today. Focusing on China, Korea and Japan (acknowledging that the Philippines was the first real European colony in East Asia, and Vietnam the second), the class explores the processes of becoming modern for individuals, state and the region, and the diverse interpretations of those processes. This counts toward the modern and colonial/imperial requirement for the major and the modern requirement for the minor. Offered every or every other year.

This course focuses on China, Korea and Japan before the rise of European maritime dominance (from the 16th century on), and the region's role in the early globalization of world exchange. East Asia emerged as a coherent cultural area in the first millennium CE, with the introduction and spread of Buddhism, a religion whose faith and associated practices profoundly stamped the physical and human landscape of the region. Significant shifts in the 12th to 18th centuries CE highlight the Confucianization of family, gender, politics and kingship during these later centuries. The Mongol and Manchu conquests of the 13th and 17th centuries mark key transition points in this process, as well as in shaping regional and global relationships of exchange. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite. Offered every other year.

This course surveys Chinese society from the origins of empire at the turn of the first millennium to the 18th century, focusing on the later centuries (11th to 18th). We will explore; 1) the gradual Confucianization of Chinese society and the tensions between ethical ideals and social realities; 2) the economic, technological and demographic expansion which brought China increasingly into global exchange networks and challenged visions of the proper world order; and 3) how those changes shaped relationships between or among individuals, communities and the state. Along with core institutions of the imperial state (throne and bureaucracy), the agrarian economy and the family-centered ancestral lineage, we examine other social and cultural forms that flourished, often in tension or opposition to societal or state-defined ideals. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite.

What is a family and how has it changed? This course examines the evolution of family and kinship in East Asia; its impact on gender norms and the lives of men, women, and children; and why these things mattered to political authorities (the state). It focuses on the striking variations of family and household structures and dynamics over the last millennium in China, Japan, and Korea, mainly. A society’s economic and political underpinnings, religious traditions, and legal norms shape and are shaped by practices of sex, marriage, child-rearing and inheritance. Students will explore these universal concerns through a rich body of materials, including written texts, art, architecture, artifacts of visual and material culture, along with abundant current scholarship that encourages an evaluation of East Asian experience in a global framework. No previous knowledge of East Asia assumed or required. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. Offered every two or three years.

This course focuses on the conceptual frameworks used by historians and on debates within the profession about the nature of the past and the best way to write about it. The seminar prepares students of history to be productive researchers, insightful readers and effective writers. The seminar is required for history majors and should be completed before the senior year. Open only to sophomores and juniors. This counts toward the practice and theory requirement for the major. Prerequisite: history or international studies major or permission of instructor.