How Poetry Mattered in 1920s Korea

Wayne de Fremery- Harvard University

Little is known about the material production of books and periodicals in colonial Korea (1910-1945), representing a tremendous gap in our understanding of cultural life on the Korean peninsula during the twentieth century. If what a text means cannot be disaggregated from how it was made and circulated, as has been demonstrated in recent years by many bibliographers, book historians, and literary critics, our lack of knowledge is profound. My talk shines a light into this fissure in our understanding of cultural experience in twentieth-century Korea by exploring how literature from the 1920s came into being on presses that rolled more freely during the second decade of Japan's occupation when restrictions on vernacular Korean publishing were relaxed. In particular, an examination of Kim So-wŏl's iconic 1925 collection of verse, Chindallaekkot (Azaleas), and its manifold material instantiations suggests how this seminal work has mattered—in the 1920s and subsequent decades—as a function of its material production.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 | 4:20 pm — 6:00 pm
Building 250 - Room 111 EALC Library

Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures