Samuel Perry, Assistant Professor, Department of East Asian Studies, Brown University
The nightingale of poetry, wrote Leon Trotsky, sings only after the sun has set. And so too it was with the sweet voice of socialist literature, which would come into its own only after, not during, the tumult of revolution. In the meantime writers who aligned themselves with the working-class would have to draw on the ideologically suspect conventions of bourgeois literature in what could only be a transitional, contradictory stage of aesthetic production. Scholars of proletarian literature in East Asia have not always acknowledged this kind of paradox at the heart of proletarian culture--nor the traces of such Trotskian dialectics in the Korean proletarian imagination. Focusing on the writings of Kang Kyong-ae, this talk explores how several key contradictions played out in the case of women writers in the Korean colony.