Session Abstract: With the field of Korean literary studies increasingly reaching beyond the confines of the peninsula, this panel explores literatures in diaspora as a means of tracing the ideological formation of what could be termed global or transnational Korean literature. Presenters approach this task from starkly contrasting perspectives: postwar ethnic Korean literature in China, fiction by so-called “Zainichi” postcolonial Korean writers in Japan, and contemporary Korean-American poetry. Nonetheless, common questions and themes emerge across these different national and historical contexts. How do writers cope with the inherent contradiction of diasporic longing for the homeland from conditions that keep them afar? How does literature overcome obstacles to the formation of solidarity across national (as well as racial and gendered) boundaries? How is language implicated in the construction—and othering—of literary communities? The multilingual, nationally ambivalent texts engaged by this panel provide a space for unpacking these questions, as well as interrogating both national and transnational analytical frameworks of modern Korean literary studies.
We begin with Miya Qiong Xie’s paper, which investigates both the literary and practical implications of the notion of “multiple motherlands” as a way of grounding multi-national identification for ethnic Korean writers in China. Next, Cindi Textor takes up a work of “Zainichi” literature in pseudo-translation, positing the pseudo-translator narrative voice as representative of a deterritorialized diasporic subject. Finally, Emily Jungmin Yoon presents on Korean-American poets, arguing that their experimental languages offer a means of exploring the possibilities and limitations of broad solidarity among “othered” communities.
Paper Presenter: Miya Q. Xie – Dartmouth College
Paper Presenter: Cindi Textor – University of Utah
Paper Presenter: Emily J. Yoon – University of Chicago