[KS] Gwageo cheongsan

Ann Lee asl at u.washington.edu
Thu Sep 12 17:49:39 EDT 2002

 Dear list,
A recent article in the New Left Review makes the interesting observation
that "a specific sphere for national study has been demarcated, a place for
criticism.  But is it a place with a future?"  (Jonathan Arac,
"Anglo-Globalism?" New Left Review 16 July/August 2002), 39.  The article
takes up discussion of the ideas of "center" and "periphery."  Chung-moo
Choi has written about colonial double discourse, and the notion of center
and periphery.  The recent thread in this list seems to suggest that Korean
historians are using a temporal definition of center and periphery without
considering the spatial dimension suggested by Wallerstein's theory of a
spatial "core."  Perhaps the "core" is a provisional, arbitrary designation
that can be defined in specific contexts and sites of struggle, instead of
being essentialized.  As Arac notes, Fielding's novel "Joseph Andrews"
"defined itself as a 'comic epic in prose, written after the manner of
Cervantes.'" (p. 38).  Thus, a modern "core" itself has "arisen from
adaptation from what, by a later date, had become the periphery."  (p. 38).
Korean writer Yi Kwang-su (1892 - ?) was a cultural nationalist who
eventually collaborated with Japan, yet, under the influence of the globally
productive notion of "nation," thought of the Korean nation as the "center,"
and Japanese and European modernities as the periphery from which ideas and
practices could be adapted and made into "Korean" practices.  As L. Liu has
observed, language and cultural tropes acquire new meanings as they pass
from European to non-European languages and contexts.  Liu's approach
emphasizes the subjectivities of "host" languages in which foreign words
circulate.  When it comes to "gwageo cheongsan," Western-language scholars
and Korean-language scholars share a similar interest in recognizing Korean
subjectivity, but with different focus.


Ann Sung-hi Lee, Assistant Professor
Asian Languages and Literature Department
Box 353521, University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-3521   http://faculty.washington.edu/asl

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