An overview of Korean/Asian American literary studies in Korea, 1964-2009
Kun Jong LEE
ABSTRACT Seminal essays on Korean American writers were published in Korea in the 1960s and 1970s. But Asian American literary studies has been flourishing only from the 1990s thanks to Korean scholars’ interest in overseas Korean literatures, the centennial of Korean immigration to the U.S. in 2003, and the rise of Asian American literary studies in the U.S. An analysis of the articles and book-length studies shows the general trends of Asian American literary studies in Korea: Korean scholars are interested more in close readings of individual texts than in general, intraethnic, interethnic, and interracial studies; they prefer narratives to plays and poems; they focus on Korean American literature; they study not only Anglophone Korean American literature but also Korean-language American texts. Korean scholars’ focus on Korean American literature significantly point at new directions in Asian American literary studies—towards broader, comparative, transnational, and translingual readings of Asian American texts. In conclusion, Korean scholars have actively participated in the international discursive networks of scholars interested in Asian American literature with their uniquely Korean perspectives.
Keywords: Asian American literary studies in Korea, Asian American literature, Anglophone Korean American literature, Korean-language American writings, transnational/translingual Korean American literary studies
Kun Jong Lee is Professor of English at Korea University. He is interested in Early American Literature, African American Literature, Asian American Literature, American Studies, American Popular Culture, Minority Discourse, and Korean Studies. His book, Race and American Literature, was published in 2002. He has also published articles in, among others, African American Review, Amerasia Journal, CLA Journal, College Literature, Comparative American Studies, Early American Literature, Journal of American Studies, PMLA, and positions: east asia cultures critique.