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Proletarian Intimacies: North Korean Literature and the “War to Liberate the Fatherland”

Theodore Hughes, Columbia University
Korean War
Thursday, February 18, 2016 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
CMU 226

The early Cold War attempt to create a new “North Korean literature” (Chosŏn munhak) cannot be understood without taking into account a global circulation of texts, as well as the history of Japanese colonial rule in Korea (1910-1945), U.S. and Soviet military occupation (1945-1948), and the Korean War (1950-53). “Proletarian Intimacies” locates the formation of North Korean literature within transnational networks of ideas and images, paying particular attention to the ambivalent relation between North Korean literary texts and their colonial proletarian antecedents, the centrality of women in early North Korean portrayals of national division and the Korean War, and the emergence in North Korea of a powerful and lasting familial bond between the people and the state.

Theodore Hughes is Korea Foundation Associate Professor of Korean Studies in the Humanities and Director of the Center for Korean Research at Columbia University. He is the author of Literature and Film in Cold War South Korea: Freedom’s Frontier (Columbia University Press, 2012; Korean translation, Somyong Press, 2013), which was awarded the Association for Asian Studies James B. Palais Book Prize. He is the coeditor of Intermedial Aesthetics: Korean Literature, Film, and Art (special issue of the Journal of Korean Studies, 2015); the co-editor of Rat Fire: Korean Stories from the Japanese Empire (Cornell East Asia Series, 2013); and the translator of Panmunjom and Other Stories by Lee Ho-Chul (Norwalk: EastBridge, 2005).

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