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Epistolary Korea: Letters in the Communicative Space of the Choson, 1392-1910

From the publisher’s website:

By expanding the definition of “epistle” to include any writing that addresses the intended receiver directly, JaHyun Kim Haboush introduces readers to the rich epistolary practice of Chosŏn Korea. The Chosŏn dynasty (1392-1910) produced an abundance of epistles, writings that mirror the genres of neighboring countries (especially China) while retaining their own specific historical trajectory. Written in both literary Chinese and vernacular Korean, the writings collected here range from royal public edicts to private letters, a fascinating array that blurs the line between classical and everyday language and the divisions between men and women. Haboush’s selections also recast the relationship between epistolography and the concept of public and private space.

Haboush groups her epistles according to where they were written and read: public letters, letters to colleagues and friends, social letters, and family letters. Then she arranges them according to occasion: letters on leaving home, deathbed letters, letters of fiction, and letters to the dead. She examines the mechanics of epistles, their communicative space, and their cultural and political meaning. With its wholly unique collection of materials, Epistolary Korea produces more than a vivid chronicle of pre- and early modern Korean life. It breaks new ground in establishing the terms of a distinct, non-European form of epistolography.

About the author

A native of Seoul, JaHyun Kim Haboush studied Korean and Chinese history and literature at Columbia University and is now the school’s King Sejong Professor of Korean Studies. Her publications include The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong and The Confucian Kingship in Korea.


Explanatory Note
Introduction: The Epistolary Genre and the Scriptural Economy of the Choson
I. Public Letters
1. Royal Edicts: Constructing an Ethnopolitical Community (JaHyun Kim Haboush)
2. Female Rulers: Queen Dowagers’ Edicts and Letters (JaHyun Kim Haboush)
3. Memorials to the Throne (John Duncan and JaHyun Kim Haboush)
4. Joint Memorials: Scholars’ Channel of Communication to the Throne (Hwisang Cho)
5. Individual Petitions: Petitions by Women in the Choson (Jisoo Kim)
6. Petitions by a Collective Body: A Petition by the Residents of the Chip’yong District (JaHyun Kim Haboush)
7. Letters of Appeal (Sun Joo Kim)
8. Circular Letters in Choson Society: Writing to Publicize Opinions (Hwisang Cho)
9. Open Letters: Patriotic Exhortations from the Imjin War (JaHyun Kim Haboush)
10. Manifestos During the Hong Kyongnae Rebellion of 1812 (Sun Joo Kim)
11. Chon Pongjun’s 1894 Tonghak Declaration (George Kallander)
12. Letters to the Editor: Women, Newspapers, and the Public Sphere in Turn-of-the Century Korea (Se-Mi Oh)
II. Letters to Colleagues and Friends
13. Correspondence Between Scholars: Political Letters (JaHyun Kim Haboush)
14. Scholarly Letters (Marion Eggert)
15. Friendship Between Men (Marion Eggert)
16. Friendship Between Women: One Man’s Consorts (JaHyun Kim Haboush)
17. Friendship with Foreigners (Marion Eggert)
III. Social Letters
18. Letters of Greeting (JaHyun Kim Haboush)
19. Letters on Everyday Life (Sun Joo Kim)
20. Male Concubinage: Notes on Late Choson Homosexuality by an American Naval Attaché (Carter J. Eckert)
IV. Family Letters
21. Letters Between Spouses (JaHyun Kim Haboush)
22. Personal Royal Letters: Correspondence Between Monarchs and Their Children (Eleanor S. Hyun)
23. The Sunch’on Kims: Vignettes of Family Life Through Letters (JaHyun Kim Haboush)
24. Fathers’ Letters Concerning Their Children’s Education (Sun Joo Kim)
25. Mothers’ Letters of Instruction to Their Children (JaHyun Kim Haboush)
26. Yi Ponghwan’s Letters to His Mother During His Trip to Japan (JaHyun Kim Haboush)
27. Daughters’ Letters to Members of Their Natal Families (JaHyun Kim Haboush)
V. Letters Written Away from Home
28. Letters Written in Korean by Exiles (JaHyun Kim Haboush)
29. A Letter Written in Literary Chinese by Chong Yagyong While in Exile (Bonnie S. Kim)
30. Letters by Prisoners of the Imjin War (JaHyun Kim Haboush)
31. Letters Sent Home by Royal Hostages (JaHyun Kim Haboush)
VI. Deathbed Letters
32. A Letter Written Before Execution: A Condemned Man’s Last Thoughts to His Children (JaHyun Kim Haboush)
33. Letters of the Catholic Martyrs (JaHyun Kim Haboush)
34. Madam Yi’s Farewell Letter to Her Son (Jungwon Kim)
35. Daughters’ Letters of Farewell to Their Fathers (Jungwon Kim)
VII. Letters to the Dead
36. A Wife’s Letter to Her Deceased Husband (Sun Joo Kim)
37. Kwon Sangil’s Farewell to His Deceased Wife (Martina Deuchler)
38. Letters to Deceased Children (JaHyun Kim Haboush)
VIII. Fictional Letters
39. Love Letters in The Tale of Unyong (Michael J. Pettid)

Entry on here.

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