Organized Panel Session
Scholarly attention in recent years to Japanese-language literature written by “non-Japanese” writers, such as writers from Japan’s former annexed territories, have effectively challenged the assumed congruence between language-ethnicity-nationality. But analysis of Korean-language texts from the late colonial period can further expand this existing discussion by showing how literary works that appear far more monolingual and mononational in comparison also bear vivid testimonies to the specific interlingual and international historicity of Asian literatures from 1930s and 40s.
Especially after the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, “Asia” emerged as a network for transcultural tourism and literary circulations. A number of late colonial period Korean-language writings by the novelist Ch’ae Man-sik include remarkably self-reflexive and sharply critical moments toward such border crossings. Largely obscured or erased in the postcolonial era, these moments become legible only when read against their contemporary wartime politics of spatial and linguistic mobilizations. By providing a radically revised reading of Ch’ae’s writings through the lenses of multilingualism, translation, and transnational circulation, this paper suggests that the impact of “Asia” as network of moving bodies and texts may be much broader and more profound than has been realized.