Seok-Won Lee | Assistant Professor
Office: 219 Buckman Hall | Phone: (901) 843-3405 | Email:



As a specialist in the intellectual and cultural history of East Asia, I teach courses on a wide range of subject matter, from traditional China to contemporary East Asia. Focusing on but not limited to Chinese and Japanese history, most of my courses have aimed to include voices of the underrepresented, the borderlands, minorities and outlaws from a transnational and comparative perspective. I also emphasize critical thinking and discussion as students encounter the history of East Asia. Trained at Cornell University, where most Asian historians are actively engaged in critical thinking and writing, I have endeavored to help students not only become better informed but also develop the habit of critical thinking in considering the history of East Asia, a history that affects our everyday lives today as a result of how the form and direction taken by nations in that region has influenced U.S. policy and our relationships with them. At Rhodes, I teach two courses on Chinese history (Traditional and Modern China) and will offer various courses on East Asian history.


The primary interest of my research is the question of rewriting the intellectual history of East Asia during the wartime period (1931-1945). As part of this long-term project, I focused my dissertation on social scientific discourses in the Japanese empire between 1931 and 1945. My study is primarily concerned with how imperial intellectuals in wartime Japan theorized and redefined the concepts of nation, space and community in order to justify Japan’s colonial aggression while challenging the notion of Western social sciences as modern, objective and therefore universal. This study also deals with the formation of China studies in wartime Japan and Korean intellectuals’ commitment to Japanese imperialism. As I revise my dissertation into a book manuscript, I am also conducting archival research on Japanese intellectuals’ writings on Chinese and Korean history and culture between the 1920s and the 1940s.


Ph.D., Department of History, Cornell University, 2010
M.Phil., Department of History, Cornell University, 2007
M.A., Interdisciplinary Program in Area Studies, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, 2003
B.A., Department of History, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, 2001


History 105  Revolutions and Revolutionaries in Modern East Asia
History 282 – Traditional China
History 283 – Modern China
History 288 – Japan Since 1800
History 405 – Cold War in East Asia