Organized Panel Session
This presentation interprets encounters between literary and film media by examining two texts under the same title—Wren’s Elegy—but shaped in two different media forms. First published as a narrative poem in 1936, Mo Yunsuk’s Wren’s Elegy centers on a woman named Wren, who has a troubled relationship with a man named Simon in the critical times of the colonial period in Korea. Over the following forty years, Mo revised the poem several times, attuning it to the historical specificities of colonial Korea, liberation space, and the Korean War. In 1969, filmmaker Kim Kiyŏng adapted the poem to film, giving flesh to the voices of Wren and Simon. While sharing the same story of the characters’ struggles during Korean historical crises, the two texts diverge regarding gendered agency. In Mo’s epistolary poem, Wren, the female narrator, controls the entire narrative, while her male counterpart is portrayed merely as an abstract individual. However, Kim’s film foregrounds Simon as the vehicle of narration. The film visualizes Simon as a man with an impaired body, whose postcolonial subjectivity is put under historical demands that are embodied by the surrounding women, including Wren. This presentation will explore such differences in the gendered agency between the two texts of Wren’s Elegy. By bringing together its literary and filmic representations, we will show how gendered subjectivities are produced at the crossroad between poetry and cinema, the lyrical and the narrative, the literary mode of confession and the visual rendering of troubled bodies.