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KEC Special Lecture Series Summer 2024 - Classical Korean Literature: Research and Translations

28.05.2024 | 16:00 - 18:00
KEC Special Lecture Series - Assistant Prof. Dr. Dennis Wuerthner

KEC Special Lecture Series - Assistant Prof. Dr. Dennis Wuerthner

Poems and Stories for overcoming Idleness: P’ahan chip by Yi Illo

-Assistant Prof. Dr. Dennis Wuerthner (Boston University)

Special Lecture Series on Classical Korean Literature: Research and Translations

The special lecture series „Classical Korean Literature: Research and Translations“ brings to the wider audience new insights into Korean literary heritage and current trends in presenting Classical Korean literature to the international audience. Individual lectures of the series will be held by distinguished scholars within the field of Korean literature of Koryŏ (918–1392) and Chosŏn times (1392–1910), who will introduce their recent publications. Thorsten Traulsen’s translation of Buddha’s biography written in Korean alphabet, Barbara Wall’s analyses of Korean perception of a legendary Chinese monkey, Dennis Wuerthner’s rendition of Koryŏ literati stories and poetry or Elena Kondratyeva’s work on memoirs of Korean queen show a fascinating richness of Korean literary heritage and at the same time indicate recent trends in introducing, translating and marketing this cultural commodity. Talks and following discussions present a rare opportunity to see Korean literature research and translation „in making“; in the course of lectures will be discussed problems presented by the multiscriptual nature of the literary canon written both in Literary Sinitic and Korean alphabet, difficulties of reading the original documents, role of the English as a medium in Korean Studies or strategies to secure funding for such projects and publications.

Lecture abstract:

Poems and Stories for Overcoming Idleness is the first complete translation in any Western language of P’ahan chip, the earliest Korean work of sihwa (C. shihua; “remarks on poetry”) and one of the oldest extant Korean sources. The collection was written and compiled by Yi Illo (1152–1220) during the mid-Koryǒ dynasty (918–1392). P’ahan chip features poetry composed in Literary Chinese (the scriptura franca of the premodern East Asian “Sinographic Sphere”) by the author and his friends, which included such literary greats as Im Ch’un (dates unknown) and O Sejae (1133–?). P’ahan chip also contains the work of other writers of diverse backgrounds: Chinese master poets, famous Confucian literati, eminent Buddhist masters, erudite Daoist hermits, Koryŏ kings—as well as long-forgotten lower-level officials, unemployed intellectuals, and rural scholars. The verse compositions are embedded in short narratives by Yi that provide context for the poems. In accordance with the guidelines of the sihwa-genre, these narratives focus primarily on matters relating to poetry while touching on a wide array of subjects such as Korean history and customs; the court and government institutions; official procedures and festivals; Koryǒ foreign-policy and diplomacy; books and the circulation of knowledge; calligraphy and painting; Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist thought; the role of women; and scenic spots and famous buildings. The book opens with an extensive introduction by translator Dennis Wuerthner on Yi Illo and P’ahan chip set against the backdrop of literary and historical developments in Korea and sino-centric East Asia and vital issues relating to Koryŏ politics, society, and culture. Wuerthner’s comprehensive, thought-provoking study is followed by a copiously annotated translation of this important Korean classic.

About the lecturer:

Dennis Wuerthner is assistant professor of East Asian literature in the Department of World Languages and Literatures, Boston University.

Zeit & Ort

28.05.2024 | 16:00 - 18:00

Institute of Korean Studies
Otto-v.-Simson Str. 11
14195 Berlin

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Prof Dr. Vladimir Glomb