Heekyoung Cho is an assistant professor of Korean Literature in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature at the University of Washington, Seattle. She is the author of Translation’s Forgotten History: Russian Literature, Japanese Mediation, and the Formation of Modern Korean Literature (Harvard, 2016). Her research interests include translation studies, Korean-Japanese-Russian cultural relations, textual studies, seriality in cultural production, and popular culture and graphic narratives.
The paper she will discuss at this talk looks at the meanings and functions that translation generated for modern national literatures during their formative period to reconsider literature as part of a dynamic translational process of negotiating foreign values. By examining the triadic literary and cultural relations among Russia, Japan, and colonial Korea, I highlight translation as a radical and ineradicable part—not merely a catalyst or complement—of modern national literature. I also emphasize a shared sensibility and literary experience in East Asia, which referred to Russia as a significant other in the formation of its own modern literatures, and thus rethinks the way modern literature developed in Korea and East Asia. While national canons are founded on amnesia regarding their process of formation, framing literature from the beginning as a process rather than an entity allows a more complex and accurate understanding of national literature formation in East Asia and may also provide a model for world literature today.