CKR ONLINE Book Talk
Vernacular Eloquence of Chosŏn Korea Beyond the Korean Script
Si Nae Park, Harvard University
Moderated by Jungwon Kim, Columbia University
Thursday, April 1, 2021
5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
Co-sponsored by Academy of Korean Studies; Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University
In this presentation Si Nae Park introduces her book The Korean Vernacular Story: Telling Tales of Contemporary Chosŏn in Sinographic Writing (Columbia University, 2020), the first book in the English language on the late Chosŏn literary genre of yadam. The presentation has two components. First, Park highlights key points of her book: how the culture of eighteenth-century Seoul as the political, economic, and cultural center of Chosŏn Korea (1392–1910) gave rise to a new vernacular narrative form that was evocative of the spoken and written Korean language of the time, and how yadamnarratives spread in the late Chosŏn culture of texts. Next, Park discusses the book’s implication as a research project that extricates the genre of yadam from the nation-centered literary historiography (kungmunhak) of the 20th century, and puts forward a need to consider vernacular eloquence beyond the Korean script and script-focused linguistic nationalism.
Si Nae Park studies the literature and literary culture of premodern Korea within the larger context of the Sinographic Cosmopolis. She specializes in the inscriptional practices, history of reading, and linguistic thought of Chosŏn Korea. Park is currently working on a new book project to examine how aurality—tentatively defined as both the vocalization of and listening to a text recited or read aloud by someone else—and social practices of reading shaped late Chosŏn literary landscape with a focus on late Chosŏn vernacular novels (ŏnmun sosŏl) as vocalized books. She is the co-editor of Score One for the Dancing Girl and Other Stories from the ‘Kimun ch’onghwa’: A Story Collection from Nineteenth-Century Korea (University of Toronto Press, 2016) and the author of The Korean Vernacular Story: Telling Tales of Contemporary Chosŏn in Sinographic Writing (Columbia University Press, 2020).