Art History and Visual Culture Program, Asian Studies Program, Historical Studies Program, Japanese Program, Literature Program, and Photography Program Present
Between Capture and Abandonment: Intermedial Liminality in Early South Korean Literature and Photography
Olin Humanities, Room 102
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm EDT/GMT-4
Jae Won Edward Chung (Assistant Professor of Korean Studies, Asian Languages and Culture, Rutgers University)
This talk shows how South Korean literature and photography underwent their own crises of representation in the years following the Korean War armistice, linked to the idea of everyday life and the normativity of the human. Chang Yonghak (1921-1999)’s existentialist fiction sought to move away from the scientific underpinnings of descriptive naturalism, a common target of critique by a range of writers and critics such as Kim Tongni (1913-1995) and Paek Ch’ŏl (1908-1985). Meanwhile, photographers pivoted towards the visuality of the everyday as a way of claiming their artistic legitimacy and overcoming their pictorialist legacy of the colonial period. The aesthetics of everyday life allowed photographer Limb Eung-sik (1912-2001), for example, to offer a carefully depoliticized realism. While the mechanism of the apparatus supposedly offered privileged access to the social reality of the masses, the images were not mobilized towards any particular goals of social transformation. My readings of literature trace both the postcolonial normativity shaping the fiction while calling attention to the tropes of bodily permeability and racial contamination. They reveal subjectivity to be boundless and open to various networks and configurations of innervation, which include discourses, aesthetics, and affects. My analysis of Limb’s photographs also moves against the grain. Bracketing their documentary premise, I emphasize, instead, their anti-evidentiary aesthetic of trace and liminality.
Jae Won Edward Chung is a professor, writer, and translator based in New Jersey. He has been teaching Korean Studies in the Department of Asian Languages and Culture at Rutgers University since 2019. He is currently working on a monograph He is currently completing a monograph on the intersection of literature, photography, cinema, and art of South Korea’s First Republic (1948-1960), entitled Aesthetics of Abandonment: Literary and Visual Culture of Early South Korea.
For more information, call 845-758-7184, or e-mail [email protected].
Time: 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm EDT/GMT-4
Location: Olin Humanities, Room 102
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