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Space and Location in the Circulation of Knowledge (1400–1800)

Korea and Beyond

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Marion Eggert, Felix Siegmund and Dennis Würthner

In response to the recent surge of interest in studying epistemic transfers and changes, this volume assembles an interdisciplinary range of articles that look at the production, consumption and dissemination of knowledge in East Asia, centering on Korea, under the paradigm of knowledge circulation. Applying this heuristic tool offers new perspectives on pre-modern Korea and beyond. It allows for flexibility of scale and thus facilitates the identification of shared processes of appropriation, digestion and re-distribution of ideas, regardless of whether the exchanges take place between states and nations, between social groups, or even between individuals. The articles in this volume stress the spatial and social aspects of the process of knowledge circulation in particular: the role of location and of social networks in the production, evaluation and dissemination of new knowledge.
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Text and Orality in the Early Reception of Western Learning within the Namin Faction. The Example of Sin Hudam’s Kimunp’yŏn – Marion Eggert

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Text and Orality in the Early Reception of Western Learning within the Namin Faction. The Example of Sin Hudam’s Kimunp’yŏn

Marion Eggert

How do we presume that knowledge about the West and Western Learning (sŏhak), especially about Christianity, spread in Chosŏn Korea before the advent of missionaries? In pious church histories, the attraction of the Catholic teaching seems to be imbued with enough explanatory power in itself to preclude that question.1 More useful studies that tackle this question usually focus on “the book” (including maps) as the key medium of knowledge transport, and in recent times, other objects like images, scientific apparel and so on have garnered some of the attention they deserve. Still, most of the effort that has been exerted in this direction has been put into tracing the trajectories of Western books in Chosŏn Korea.2 This is very valuable work indeed, of which we can use even more. In this paper I wish not to refute, but to strengthen and augment such an approach centering on books (and other material objects) by emphasizing one aspect of the circulation of books and objects as carriers of knowledge that has perhaps not received its proper share of scholarly attention, namely the oral discourses accompanying and facilitating the movement of these material tokens.

Texts (and objects) certainly have a core function in the distribution of knowledge; Bruno Latour and others have formulated influential theories around this point....

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