Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Shu-Ling Chen Berggreen

Second Advisor

Andrew Calabrese

Third Advisor

Hun Shik Kim

Fourth Advisor

Brenda Romero

Fifth Advisor

Lisa Penaloza


This dissertation explores how the discourse of modernity played a critical role in creating the meanings of jazz in the topography of South Korean popular culture. Based upon a discourse analysis of Korean media coverage about jazz from the 1920s to 2011, this study examines how jazz as a component of US popular culture shaped the social meanings of modernity in Korea. Before delving into an analysis of jazz discourse in Korea, the study explains the historical development of jazz by reviewing published literature including books, journal articles and other historical texts. Modernity and post-colonialist theories are suggested as two key concepts in understanding jazz’s cultural status and influences on contemporary Korean culture. This paper reveals three prominent discourses: the modern lifestyle discourse, the authenticity seeking discourse and, last but not least, the Koreanization of jazz discourse. These three discourses coordinated to enhance modernity as their overarching interest: modernity. Throughout the analysis, the collision of three discourses made the cultural meaning of jazz multi-layered.

In addition, this dissertation examines the dynamics between tradition and modernity. In the process of receiving jazz as a representation of Western culture, multiple collisions happened between Korean tradition and Western modernity. At the center of this research is an investigation of how such conflicts arose, were negotiated, and became legitimate. A plethora of discourses on jazz appearing in mass media works as an access point to observe the struggles for hegemony among different, often conflicting social values. This research examines the process by which jazz acquired, changed and reproduced socio-cultural meanings in South Korea. It probes into the process of social and cultural meanings of jazz and how these have been changed and reshaped by Korean contexts. Modernity, tradition and post-coloniality as theoretical background have been drawn upon in this dissertation. Based on these concepts, this dissertation investigates how the social perception of jazz is constructed and how it responds to social reality.