Networks of disquiet: Censorship and the production of literature in eighteenth-century Korea

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This article explores the transnational interaction of early modern Korean literature with special attention to the practice of "censorship." By examining media control by the government authorities in both late Chosǒn Korea and late imperial China, this study aims to examine how the state and policymakers attempted to control the flow of unorthodox books and how the production of books epitomized the cultural values of the day. "What value system prompted the authorities to forbid a certain body of texts?" "What agencies were instrumental in the circulation of books?" By analyzing various travelogues to Beijing (yǒnhaengnok) and notes on poetry (sihwa), this article examines how the transnational interaction between China and Korea and changing textual environments influenced the production of literature in late Chosǒn. Using a specific case study of Yi Tǒng-mu (1741-1793), this article demonstrates that various "informal networks" outside of conventional channels functioned as the actual key drivers of book culture. In particular, a number of "book brokers" in the Qing and Chosǒn facilitated the distribution of forbidden books. My study on these circulatory dynamics reveals how negotiations between the control of media and the distributing of books influenced the textual environments and how the cultural value system shaped the production of literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-280
Number of pages32
JournalActa Koreana
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jun

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Academia Koreana, Keimyung University, 2017.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • General Arts and Humanities


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