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“With Words Alone Shall The Barbarians Be Subdued”: Literary Practice And Imperial Imagination In Korean Envoy Poetry, 1392–1592

Monday, March 7, 2016 - 11:00am to 12:30pm
Lathrop Library, Room 224, 521 Memorial Way

Free and open to the public.

The Chosŏn dynasty of Korea (1392–1910) enjoyed two centuries of unbroken peace with the Ming empire in China (1368–1644). Peace was not without its tensions, for the Chosŏn court had to square its own sovereign claims with Ming assertions of universal rule (and endure the haughty behavior of imperial envoys). This talk addresses these tensions by discussing the practice of envoy poetry, the importance and intensity of which was unparalleled in Chosŏn-Ming diplomacy. This poetry, collected in the Korean compilation the Anthology of Brilliant Flowers (Hwanghwa chip), not only elucidated visions of empire, it also coopted Ming imperial ideology to assert Korean political autonomy and to lay claim to a shared classical tradition. In the process, Chosŏn cultivated a literary sociability, which established norms of behavior expected of imperial envoys, and helped perpetuate a myth of the Ming’s moral empire.

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Center for East Asian StudiesDepartment of East Asian Languages and Cultures
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