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Women Pre-ScriptedForging Modern Roles through Korean Print$
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Ji-Eun Lee

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780824839260

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824839260.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM HAWAII SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hawaii.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hawaii University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HSO for personal use (for details see www.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 24 September 2018

Women in Book Culture

Women in Book Culture

(p.16) Chapter One Women in Book Culture
Women Pre-Scripted

Ji-Eun Lee

University of Hawai'i Press

In order to better understand the rise of discourse on women vis-à-vis forces of modernity, this chapter discusses gender in the context of pre-twentieth-century reading practices in Korea. The usual trajectory of scholarship on pre-twentieth-century book culture first associates women with indigenous script (han’gŭl), then links them with the literary genre of the novel, and thus defines women as the main reader group for novels written in han’gŭl. However, low literacy rates and socio-cultural factors pertaining to Chosŏn women challenge more than support this association. In examining how reading materials circulated and re-assessing claims that novels in han’gŭl constituted a women’s genre, this chapter calls for greater nuance in interrogating gender categories as they get deployed in literary scholarship. It sees the juncture of “women”, mun/munhak, and the role of women in Korean literature as a site for re-evaluating the intricate mechanics of gender relations in Korea.

Keywords:   han’gŭl, literacy, novel, women readers, circulation, Chosŏn Korea

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