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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Bridging the Colonial Divide: Japanese-Korean Solidarity in the International Proletarian Literature Movement
by Floyd, Nikki Dejan, Ph.D., Yale University, 2011, 309; 3497005
Abstract (Summary)

The Japanese and Korean proletarian literature movements of the late 1920s and early 1930s were ostensibly committed to international solidarity in the struggle against capitalism and imperialism. Scholars generally acknowledge, however, that Japanese-Korean proletarian solidarity was quite limited, due in large part to the difficulty of reconciling the campaign for international socialist revolution with ethnic nationalist desires to free Korea from Japanese colonial rule (1910–1945). This dissertation argues that the unrealized promise of Japanese-Korean international solidarity during the colonial-era socialist movement can be explained by analyzing the creative works of both Japanese and Korean proletarian writers.

While previous scholarship has employed biographical and literary historical approaches, this study examines the literary texts themselves, adding to the discussion little-known figures and writings. In part inspired by the theoretical frameworks of such authors as Toni Morrison (Playing in the Dark) and Edward Said (Culture and Imperialism), it performs close readings of literary, critical, and programmatic texts to discover how notions of ethnicity and class are encoded in language, characterization, and narrative technique. The study also contextualizes literary works by situating them within or against larger trends in the movement, and by considering them alongside the organizational histories of the Korea Proletarian Arts League (KAPF) and the Japan Proletarian Culture Federation (KOPF).

Each chapter identifies obstacles to and trends against Japanese-Korean solidarity, but each also highlights the exceptional writers and literary works that challenge those obstacles and trends. Chapter One examines representations of Korean characters in Japanese proletarian literature of the late 1920s and identifies linkages between the pervasive trope of Korean victimhood and Japanese imperialist ideology. Chapter Two argues that the works of Korean writer Song Yoˇng (1903–1978) promote international solidarity by criticizing ethnic nationalist sentiment among the Korean proletariat and the trend of ethnocentric pastoralism in Korean proletarian literary production. Chapter Three identifies the linguistic and narrative devices employed by Japanese writer Nakano Shigeharu (1902–1979) to negotiate the ideological conflict between class and ethnicity, using the works of Moriyama Kei and Im Hwa as points of comparison. Chapter Four reveals the integrative lyrical strategies that Zainichi Korean writer Kim Yong-je (1909–1994) employs to stretch the limits of ethnic and anti-colonial expression while staying safely within the parameters of Communist ideology and furthering the goals of his organization.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Treat, John
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 73/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Asian literature, History, Asian Studies
Keywords: Colonialism, Japan, Korea, Proletarian literature, Socialism, Solidarity
Publication Number: 3497005
ISBN: 978-1-267-18034-6
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