Poetry in action: Networks of literary communication and the cultural leverage in the eighteenth-century Seoul

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This article revisits the study of the poetry communities, sisa, in the eighteenth-century Seoul, in terms of their membership, structural patterns, and boundaries of interaction. By applying methods in the digital humanities such as social network analysis and geographical information systems, I argue that literary activities in the sisa were performed beyond the factional demarcations, and cultural leverage was determined by their positional advantage in the community structure, not imposed by the political dominance. The factional affiliations of the participants were not directly correlated with the formation of cultural identities. The poetry communities functioned as major loci of cultural textual networks in the late Chosǒn Seoul. Paying no heed to hierarchical distinction, the participants enjoyed the convivial spontaneous environments and shared their literary works with one another. Focusing on the collaborative nature of the era, many modern scholars have examined the kinship, social classes, and political orientations of the community members; furthermore, some argue that those who belonged to influential political factions also exercised their cultural influence and set mainstream literary trends. My research differs from previous contributions in its emphasis on the relational community structure and the information flow. Measuring the homogeneity, centralities, and membership, I prove that the cultural practices were much more complicated beyond the social-political system, and explain how politically marginalized people were able to gain leverage in the cultural world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)766-781
Number of pages16
JournalDigital Scholarship in the Humanities
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Sept 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of EADH. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Computer Science Applications


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