Globally speaking, what “literature” and “literary studies” have meant during the large part of the twentieth century began to change, especially as we entered the twenty-first century, in relation to the multiple changes, such as ever intensifying globalization, the precipitous rise of digital culture and knowledge, transnationalization of area studies perspectives, and increasingly interdisciplinary intellectual inquiries across all fields. This special issue of The Review of Korean Studies considers how Korean literary studies has been reconstructing itself and the ways in which it might continue to re-shape itself in the future. The issue features three articles from both sides of the Pacific: they theorize and exemplify the literary studies’ recent shift toward cross-disciplinary scholarship, both in South Korea and the United States. Briefly, we would like to consider how the rethinking of Korean literary studies and interdisciplinarity, the main concern of this special issue, might be situated, more broadly, in the earlier and contemporary historical contexts.
This paper examines the boundary and status of as well as issues surrounding ‘cultural studies’ (munhwaronjeok yeongu) as an interdisciplinary study and renewal of traditional literary studies. Basically, cultural studies is essentially inclusive and trans-disciplinary. Although cultural studies is in a particular proximity with other fields of research, it neither shares values with nor falls under major disciplines such as Korean literary studies (gungmunhak), Anglo-American cultural studies, or their tributaries including history of everyday life and micro-history. It observes and critically analyzes political aspects and structures of dominance reflected in cultural phenomena. Cultural studies has always been sensitive to ‘democracy from below’ and its culture, and sought ways to make intellectual action against commodification and marginalization of knowledge and cultural system. Until recently, this task has been fulfilled by studies of ‘cultural (munhwaronjeok) literary history,’ cultural history, or popular culture. This paper also outlines the methodology and perspective of cultural studies by discussing the issues and problems regarding texturalism and other theories. It also argues that the neo-liberalist ‘Regime’ has profound influence on interdisciplinary studies in terms of how Korean literary scholars and critics are employed or supported; the transformation in the writing process and the system of struggle for recognition; as well as governing our bodies and micro-relationships.
In recent years, there has been, what some, including W.J.T. Mitchell, have termed, a “visual turn” where our encounters and experiences of the world have become increasingly more visual, even in the literary realm. The recognition that writers and literary works have long been engaged with the visual technologies of language has opened up a field of inquiry that has allowed scholars to further probe the relationship between literary works and the other arts, especially the visual, beyond standard literary criticism to cultural studies. This study is particularly interested in the relationship between literature and photography, film, and radio in early twentieth-century Korea. More specifically, it investigates the genre of yeonghwa soseol (cinematic novels) to consider the questions of not only literature’s cinematic turn but also the ways in which the newly forged relationship between literature and new technologies and new media affected the practices of creating literature itself. In looking at the emergence of this genre as well as through the analysis of a specific work by Sim Hun, this study hopes to show how the emergence of new print media, film, photography, and radio did not necessarily create discrete media arts but was entwined in a symbiotic relationship with each other and with traditional literary forms through which they generated new reading, viewing, and hearing experiences.
This paper offers an alternative perspective on the well-known “humanism” debates of the mid-1930s by focusing on the early writings of Kim Oseong 金午星 and their changing vision of disciplinary relations. First, I show how the basic content of Kim’s “humanism” (hyumeonijeum)—that is, his vision of both human life and human nature as internally dialectical—emerged in a series of early 1930s articles published in the Cheondogyo New Faction journal, Sin Ingan (New Human). Second, I trace how Kim’s ideas shifted in tandem with broader developments in the New Faction, emphasizing his changing vision of the relationship between philosophy, science, and religion. Third, I demonstrate how Kim pivoted in the year 1936 by “converting” to literature, entering the literary field, dispatching with Cheondogyo terminology, and taking up the term “humanism.” Fourth, using fictional and critical texts by An Hamgwang, Im Hwa, Han Seolya, Yi Giyeong, Song Yeong, and Han Intaek, I suggest that Kim’s relationship to literature should be understood within the context of both contemporary debates about Socialist Realism and the emergence of self-reflexive tropes in novels about novelists written by former members of the Korean Artists Proletarian Federation (KAPF) and their associates.
In contrast to many feudal lords who lost their political and economic positions in the aftermath of the Meiji Restoration (1868), the Hosokawa family from Kumamoto Japan succeeded in transforming themselves to be significant landlords, both in their old prefecture and in the new Korean colony. The Hosokawa family came to Korea immediately after the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5), where they acquired a large tract of land upon which they built a tenant farm and model village. The family put forth a large amount of investment and donation to the immigrant village of Daejangchon, so as to develop social infrastructure as well as to carry out land improvement for rice production. Daejangchon was in North Jeolla Province, a famous bread-basket in Korea, and was a Korean branch of the Hosokawa Farm Headquarters in the Kumamoto Prefecture. As a model village, Daejangchon experienced rapid development among immigrant society. However, this highly developed community caused confusion and alienation among the native Korean villagers, and presented itself as a contradiction to the assimilation policy of the colonial authorities. This was because Daejangchon represented a kind of transplantation of the Japanese local improvement movement to the colony, rather than an outgrowth of autonomous rural development in the context of Korean local society.
This paper investigates the influence of cultural tradition on democracy in South Korea, with a particular focus on Confucian values. Confucian values comprise a positive attitude towards worldly affairs, a life-style of sustained discipline and self-cultivation, respect for authority, and familial collectivism. The data relies on a national survey conducted in 2000. Survey analyses served to provide empirical evidence that previous speculative debates lacked. The evidence shows that Confucian tradition exerts no effect on popular support for political democracy but has a negative impact on support for democracy in social relations. However, the authoritarian effect of Confucian values weakens in the presence of other social forces such as urbanization and Christianity. Protestant belief and growing up in an urban area diminish the negative effects of Confucianism. This suggests that Confucianism is adapted to new social trends and that the relationship between tradition and modernity is not one of antithesis, but of mutual accommodation.