Korea and Beyond
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
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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