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Title: Between identity and difference : othering, bordering and the self-fashioning of the reading public in late Choson travel writing
Author: Lee, Eugene
ISNI:       0000 0004 7960 6215
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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This dissertation explores Choson perceptions of self, China, and the wider world during the first two centuries of Choson-Qing relations, as expressed in yonhaengnok, Choson travelers' accounts of China that proliferated during this same period. I approach yonhaengnok as an unofficial counterpart and counterweight to official discourses on Choson and its Others, inasmuch as the production and consumption of yonhaengnok involved a widening cross-section of Choson society, the reading public, and provided an alternative avenue for disseminating knowledge, constructing identities, and exercising influence. The bifurcated status of yonhaengnok in contemporary scholarship - marginalized as outsider sources on Qing China while privileged as firsthand sources on late Choson intellectuals and intellectual life - reflects a common, overriding concern among historians and literary scholars with the reliability and usefulness of yonhaengnok as documentary sources. The dominant scholarly practice of mining yonhaengnok for biographical and ideological information about the authors, though productive in its own right, has overshadowed the need to also treat yonhaengnok as objects of study in themselves. Here, I seek to demonstrate how attention to the evolving parameters and function of the yonhaengnok, as a genre and form of discourse, can contribute to a more nuanced understanding of late Choson identity formation and maintenance. The greater part of this dissertation examines where and how Choson travelers employed the strategies of othering and bordering to represent their encounters in contrasting and hierarchical terms. I attempt to identify the particular subjectivities invoked in such negotiations between identity and difference by combining close readings with broader investigations into the social, intellectual, and literary milieus to which the authors and their readers belonged (or aspired to belong). Finally, I argue that the yonhaengnok's self-referentiality and popularity as a platform for selffashioning, particularly in the nineteenth century, indicate a stronger interaction between yonhaengnok production and reception than has been posited in previous scholarship.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral