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Hardback: $65.00
ISBN-13: 9781939161062
Published: March 2019

The Novel in Transition: Gender and Literature in Early Colonial Korea

  • Having been marginalized from the literature-proper sphere of Confucian elite culture, the novel began to transform significantly at turn of the twentieth century in Korea. Selected novels in transformation that Jooyeon Rhee investigates in this book include both translated and creative historical novels, domestic novels, and crime novels, all of which were produced under the spell of civilization and enlightenment. Rhee places the transformation of the novel in the complex nexus of civilization discourses, transnational literary forces, and modern print media to show how they became a driving force behind the development of modern Korean literature. Gender is an analytical category central to this book since it became an important epistemological ground on which to define the Korean nation and modernity in literature at the time, and because the novel was one of the most effective technologies that mediated and populated knowledge about gender roles and relations. The masculine norms and principles articulated in novels, Rhee argues, are indicative of writers’ and translators’ negotiation with political and cultural forces of the time; their observations of the ambiguity of modernity manifest in the figure of mobile, motivated, and forward-looking woman and immobile, emotional, and suppressed men.

    • Jooyeon Rhee is assistant professor in the Department of Asian Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. Her current research focuses on crime and mystery fiction of late colonial Korea.