While discussing his book The Power of the Brush: Epistolary Practices in Chosŏn Korea (University Washington Press, 2020), Hwisang Cho will give a survey of the “epistolary revolution” that shaped Korean society from the sixteenth century to the end of the Chosŏn dynasty and beyond. By examining the physical peculiarities of new letter forms, the cooptation of letters for other purposes after their communicative functions, and the rise of diverse political epistolary genres, this talk will illuminate how innovation in epistolary practices allowed diverse writers to move beyond the limits imposed by the existing scholarly culture, gender norms, and political systems. While emphasizing how the epistolary revolution posed new challenges to traditional values and already-established institutions, it will demonstrate that new modes of reading and writing developed in the seemingly mundane and trivial practice of letter writing triggered a flourishing of Neo-Confucian moral thought, the formation of new kinds of cultural power, and the rise of elite public politics.
Hwisang Cho, Emory University
Jisoo M. Kim, GW Institute for Korean Studies
Sponsored by GW Institute for Korean Studies