Exploring Textual Media in Early Modern China and Korea
1: Subversive Eyes: Relocating World Literature and the Networks of Interpretation in a 17th-Century Encyclopedia from Chosŏn
Thursday, March 24, 2022
12:30pm – 2:00pm EST
Virtual Paper Presenter(s)
Jamie Jungmin Yoo
Yonsei University, Republic of Korea
Does a great canon provide an inspirational platform for aspiring writers? History shows that it often causes psychological challenges as writers struggle to overcome the anxiety posed by their literary antecedents. Chibong yusŏl, an encyclopedic collection from 17th-century Chosŏn, Korea, vividly demonstrates how the author Yi Su-gwang (1563–1628) attempted to subvert the transcendental positions of literary canons by positioning them in the networks of textual exegesis. Challenging the notion of canon as a perfect and fixed entity, Yi historicized the reception of Du Fu in Chosŏn, for example, and traced how this particular body of text became the most influential part of the canon and could be also deconstructed through interpretative performances. Highlighting the textuality of literary canons, which was considered fluid and flexible, this paper unravels the networks of interpretation drawn from the thousands of references found in Chibong yusŏl. Special emphasis of this research also will be placed on the changing “material conditions” of the day, particularly after the Imjin waeran (1592–1598) war between Korea and Japan. The post-war intellectual environment witnessed the influx of a large number of books on Ming and Qing scholarship and prompted a significant shift in the perspective of the Chosŏn literati. This paper also applies digital humanities methods, such as social network analysis, to embrace both macro- and micro-level critical approaches to textual interpretation and to visualize the textual networks found within and outside Chibong yusŏl.