Colonizing Language: Cultural Production and Language Politics in Modern Japan and Korea


Thursday, November 10, 2022, 4:30pm to 6:00pm


Huguette and Michel Porté Seminar Room (S250), CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Korea Colloquium


Christina Yi
Associate Professor of Modern Japanese Literature, University of British Columbia

Christina Yi is Associate Professor of Modern Japanese Literature at the University of British Columbia. She received her Ph.D. in Modern Japanese Literature from Columbia University. She is a specialist of modern Japanese-language literature and culture, with a particular focus on issues of postcoloniality, language ideology, genre, and gender. Her first monograph, Colonizing Language: Cultural Production and Language Politics in Modern Japan and Korea, was published by Columbia University Press in 2018. Her current research project investigates the discursive formation and theoretical limits of “repatriation literature” (hikiage bungaku) through an examination of fiction, essays, and memoirs on the subject of repatriation, by both Japanese and non-Japanese writers. 

Chaired by Si Nae Park, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University

What happens to narratives of empire in the wake of empire’s collapse? In other words, what kinds of new narratives are made possible – and what kinds are occluded – when the language(s) of empire and its borders are made to undergo radical change? In this book talk, Christina Yi will will explore such questions by considering the cases of Chang Hyŏkchu (1905–1997) and Yuzurihara Masako (1911–1949), two writers of Japanese-language literature whose career trajectories complicated the divisions of time and space that were so celebrated by others following Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allied Powers in 1945. Both Chang and Yuzurihara had direct experience living under Japanese colonial rule, the former as a Korean colonial subject and the latter as a Japanese settler in Karafuto. Both also found that the terms of the “postwar” present ironically precluded them from coming to terms with the terms of the past. This talk will elaborate on this point by comparing Chang’s “Intimidation” (Kyōhaku, 1953) with Yuzurihara’s “Korean Lynching” (Chōsen yaki, 1949) and, in doing so, offer some thoughts on both the possibilities and limits of national literatures constructed after empire’s end.

To attend this online event, please register here.

Generously supported by the Sunshik Min Endowment Fund for the Advancement of Korean Literature at the Korea Institute, Harvard University