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Kinship Novels of Early Modern Korea: Between Genealogical Time and the Domestic Everyday
May 14 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Ksenia Chizhova, Princeton University
Moderated by Jungwon Kim, Columbia University
Friday, May 14, 2021
10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Co-sponsored by Academy of Korean Studies; Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University
Abstract:The lineage novel flourished in Korea from the late seventeenth to the early twentieth century. These vast works unfold genealogically, tracing the lives of several generations. New storylines, often written by different authors, follow the lives of the descendants of the original protagonists, offering encyclopedic accounts of domestic life cycles and relationships. Elite women transcribed these texts—which span tens and even hundreds of volumes—in exquisite vernacular calligraphy and transmitted them through generations in their families.
In Kinship Novels of Early Modern Korea, Ksenia Chizhova foregrounds lineage novels and the domestic world in which they were read to recast the social transformations of Chosŏn Korea and the development of early modern Korean literature. She demonstrates women’s centrality to the creation of elite vernacular Korean practices and argues that domestic-focused genres such as lineage novels, commemorative texts, and family tales shed light on the emergence and perpetuation of patrilineal kinship structures. The proliferation of kinship narratives in the Chosŏn period illuminates the changing affective contours of familial bonds and how the domestic space functioned as a site of their everyday experience. Drawing on an archive of women-centered elite vernacular texts, Chizhova uncovers the structures of feelings and conceptions of selfhood beneath official genealogies and legal statutes, revealing that kinship is as much a textual as a social practice. Shedding new light on Korean literary history and questions of Korea’s modernity, this book also offers a broader lens on the global rise of the novel
Ksenia Chizhova is Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies Director of Undergraduate Studies at Princeton University. Her areas of interest are history of emotions, family, and scriptural practices in Korea, from the late eighteenth to the twentieth century. Her first manuscript, Kinship Novels of Early Modern Korea: Between Genealogical Time and the Domestic Everyday, published by Columbia University Press, looks into the rise and fall of the lineage novel (kamun sosŏl), which narrated the interstices of Korea’s kinship system and foregrounded the genealogical subject—a structure of identity defined by kinship obligation and understood as socialization of the emotional self. Lineage novels, which constituted the core of elite vernacular Korean literature and circulated between the late 17th and early 20thcenturies, configure Korean kinship as a series of clashes between genders and generations, which produce unruly, violent emotions.