Intimate Brushes: Manuscript Exchange between Korean and Chinese Intellectual Communities in the late 18th and Early 19th Centuries

Sponsored by Stanford University Libraries, East Asia Library, History Department, Center for East Asian Studies, Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures


Thursday, March 8, 2018
4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
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East Asia Library, Room 224, 518 Memorial Way
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Free and open to the public.  Please RSVP here.

About the talk:

After the advent of the printing and publishing boom in early modern East Asia, intellectuals in late-18th and early-19th century Korea and China turned to enduring practices of producing and circulating handwritten and hand-drawn materials in ink-and-brush as a way of forming and maintaining bonds of friendship with one another. Initially occasioned by encounters during the Chosŏn diplomatic travels to China, the exchanges involved a range of scribal practices, from compiling and editing so-called “brush conversations” and epistles, to reproducing antiquarian texts of calligraphies and portraits kept in collectors’ libraries. Founded on the versatility of Sino-graphic writing, and its associated literary and graphic traditions, as a shared means of textual communication and transmission in East Asia, recursive production and circulation shaped manuscript exchange as a sociocultural network. This network of exchange not only cut across geographic and state boundaries, but also across internal divides within the class of elites; and while continuing on for generations, it interlinked coeval groups of intellectuals in Seoul and Beijing. A sense of transnational and intergenerational scribal communities, which emerged from this, reflects inquiries into what it means to be an intellectual in the respectively divisive and fractured literati societies of late Chosŏn Korea and Qing China. The talk will demonstrate through engaging a case study the various mediations and connections among texts, which constitute the culture of manuscript exchange. The talk thus considers the multi-directionality of textual transmission in early modern East Asia as an alternative to the Sinocentric framework. The presentation also seeks to open up further discussion surrounding media of communication by questioning the conventional view that subscribes to linear, developmental teleology.

About the speaker:

Jiwon Shin is Assistant Professor in the School of International Letters and Cultures at Arizona State University. Shin specializes in early modern and modern Korean literature with a focus on media studies, urban culture, and travel writing. Her main field of research is hanmun literature of the late Chosŏn period, with an occasional venture into modern Korean poetry and feminist criticism. Her current book project explores manuscript culture in the intellectual exchange between Korea and China in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. She has published on antiquarian collecting in the late Chosŏn period, nineteenth-century urban literati culture in Korea and China, and translations of modern Korean poetry. She teaches courses on Korean literature and film, Asian popular culture, and a general survey of literary and cultural theories.

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Free and open to the public.  Please RSVP here.