In Search of New Horizons:
One Hundred Years of Modern Korean Literature
October 27-28, 2017
Colloquium Room, Photonics Center, Boston University
8 St. Mary’s Street, 9th floor, Boston, MA 02215

Image for Korea Iit workshop (002)

Concurring with the centennial of Yi Kwangsu’s Mujŏng (The Heartless, 1917), a work often described as the first modern Korean novel, this two-full-day workshop brings together emerging and established scholars of modern Korean literature around the world to examine the current state of the field and set new agendas for future research. Speakers will explore a broad range of topics—from colonialism to Cold War aesthetics, from modernism to science fiction, from major canonical authors to diasporic writers, and from sonic narratives to contemporary literature in new media—while reassessing the conventional categories, periodizations, and boundaries that have framed our understanding of modern Korean literature. After incorporating feedback from the workshop, the papers will be published in the Routledge Handbook of Modern Korean Literature. Two special panels are added to bring Yi Kwangsu’s The Heartless into dialogue with other “first novels” in late-developing modernities such as China, Germany, and Russia. This event is held as the 10th annual workshop of the Korean Literature Association ( and made possible by the generous support of our sponsors: Literature Translation Institute of Korea, the BU Center for the Humanities, BU Center for the Study of Asia, and BU Department of World Languages & Literatures.


Members of the BU Community can view video of the conference here.

Day 1

DAY I: October 27, 2017

8 am-9 am: Breakfast

9am-9:15 am: Opening Remarks

  • Sarah Frederick (Associate Chair, World Languages & Literatures, BU)
  • Yoon Sun Yang (Workshop Organizer, Korean, BU)

9:15 am-10:40 am: Panel 1) Crossing Borders, Redrawing boundaries

  • Nayoung Aimee Kwon (Duke University), Figure of the Translator: Kim Saryang between Modern Korean and Japanese
  • Travis Workman (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities), Migration, Bordering, and the Regional Imaginary in Colonial Period Frontier Literature
  • Discussant: Karen Thornber (Harvard University)

10:40-10:55am: Coffee Break

10:55 am-12:20pm: Panel 2) Editors and Publishers of Korean Literature

  • Wayne De Fremery (Sogang University, S. Korea), Time and Materials—The Matter of Poetic Expression in 1920s Korea
  • Jiwon Shin (Arizona State University), Hansi as National History: Publishing The Anthology of Poetry of the Great Eastern Nation (1918)
  • Discussant: Wiebke Denecke (BU)

12:20pm-1:20 pm: Lunch

1:20- 2:45pm: Panel 3) Language, Ethnicity, and Boundaries: Zainichi (Korean Residents in Japan) Writers

  • Cindi Textor (University of Utah), Zainichi Writers and the Postcoloniality of Modern Korean Literature
  • Jonathan Glade (Michigan State), Fracturing Literary Boundaries: Connections between Koreans in Japan and the Korean Peninsula, 1945–1952
  • Discussant: Samuel Perry (Brown University)

2:45-3 pm: Coffee Break

3pm-4:30 pm <<The Centennial of Yi Kwangsu’s Mujŏng I>>

  • Keynote: Setsuko Hatano (University of Niigata Prefecture, Japan), The Orthography and Style of Mujŏng (The Heartless, 1917)
  • Ellie Choi (Harvard University), Seoul and Hometown (kohyang) in Yi Kwangsu’s Mujŏng (The Heartless, 1917) and Hŭk (The Soil, 1932)
  • Discussant: Yoon Sun Yang (BU)

4:30-4:45pm: Coffee Break

4:45pm-6:10 pm: Panel 4) Curating the Korean Literary Canon

  • Sunyoung Park (USC), Decolonizing the Future: Postcolonial Science Fiction in South Korea
  • Immanuel Kim (Binghamton Univ.), Reading the Enemy: North Korean Literature on the Fringes of the Canon
  • Discussant: Daisy Yan Du (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology & Harvard-Yenching Institute)

6:30 pm: Dinner

Day 2: October 28, 2017

8 am-9 am: Breakfast

9 am-11:15 am: Panel 5) Contemporary Korean Literature in the Changing Mediascape: Radio, Digital Fiction, Podcasts, and Webtoon

  • Haerin Shin (Vanderbilt University), New Media in South Korean Literature: The Reflexive Novelty of Digital Literacy
  • Jina Kim (Dickenson College), From Radio to Podcasts: A History of Listening in Sonic Narratives in Modern Korea
  • We Jung Yi (Penn State University), Co-mixing Korean War Memories: Witness, Survival and Archive in Yoon Tae-ho’s Graphic Narrative Operation Chromite
  • Discussant: Petrus Liu (BU) & Dahye Kim (McGill University)

11:15 am-11:35am: Coffee break

11:35 am-1 pm: Panel 6) A New Paradigm: Mid-century Korean Literature

  • Janet Poole (University of Toronto), Crossing the Great Divide: Mid-century Modernism on the Korean Peninsula
  • Ji Young Kim (CUNY, Queens College), Imagined Border Crossings in Mid-century Korean Literature
  • Discussant: Mi-Ryong Shim (Northwestern University)

1 pm-2 pm: Lunch

2-3:25 pm: Panel 7) South Korean Literature between Postcolonialism and Cosmopolitanism

  • Youkyung Son (Seoul National University, S. Korea),“To be a Citizen in the ‘World of Language’: Choi In-hoon and Cosmopolitan Literary Practices in South Korea”
  • Youngju Ryu (University of Michigan), “What is Literature?”: Topographies of Postwar South Korean Criticism
  • Discussant: Seung-Hee Jeon (Boston College) & Sanjay Krishnan (English, BU)

3:25 pm-3:40 pm: Coffee break

3:40pm-5:40 pm <<The Centennial of Yi Kwangsu’s Mujŏng II: Mujŏng and World Literature>>

  • Catherine Yeh (Chinese, BU), The forever contested beginning of the modern: Liang Qichao’s The Future Record of New China and Lu Xun’s “A Madman’s Diary.”
  • Yuri Corrigan (Russian, BU), The Korean ‘Idiot’: Reading Yi Kwangsu through Dostoevsky
  • Peter Schwartz (German, BU), A Nation (?), in Love and in Print: Mujŏng and Werther as “First Modern Novels”
  • Discussant: J. Keith Vincent (Japanese, BU)

6 pm: Dinner


ABSTRACTS AND BIOS (in alphabetical order)