The Struggle for Literacy in Korea: An examination of literacy and the power of language in Korea, 1392-1945
Columbia University. Weatherhead East Asian Institute
Columbia University. East Asian Languages and Cultures
Columbia University. Heyman Center for the Humanities
Columbia University. East Asian Regional Studies
Traditional narratives tend to break Korean history into two periods: the pre-modern and the modern. In addition, each scholar has his or her own temporal dividing line separating these two periods, whether it be a specific year, or a range of years. Regardless of differing opinions and different markers for what determines "modernity," all of these historical narratives have one thing in common: they split Korean history in two. Despite this artificial split created by many an academic work, several aspects of Korea's long history can serve as a continuous link between the pre-modern and modern periods as a way to challenge the notion of forcing the need to create a definite dividing line between two historical periods. This paper will examine one such of those aspects. I will argue that Korean history, from the ChosÇ’n period through the colonial period, has been marked by a societal struggle for literacy. In other words, literacy, at various stages in Korean history, has served as the locus of power that has manifested itself in a myriad of forms. Furthermore, I will examine literacy as a vehicle for linking such disparate members of society as Neo-Confucian literati during the Imjin War and Korean independence activists of the early 20th century.
M.A., Columbia University.
2012-06-21 11:03:17 -0400
2014-11-05 15:00:50 -0500