The Historian’s Ink: Writing and Reading Histories of Koryŏ in the Chosŏn (1392–1910)

The Historian’s Ink: Writing and Reading Histories of Koryŏ in the Chosŏn (1392–1910)

Graeme R. Reynolds - Korea Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in East Asian Studies

Wednesday, November 10, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
via Zoom See map

The History of Koryŏ and the Essentials of Koryŏ History are two court histories on the Koryŏ dynasty (918–1392) compiled during the early decades of the Chosŏn (1392–1910). Written in the cosmopolitan language of Literary Sinitic, these two books became foundational texts for the Chosŏn elites to write and rewrite their past. Today, the two texts are centerpiece historical sources for the study of premodern Korea. In this talk, I examine the Chosŏn-era production, circulation, and reception of these two court histories. Based on my examination of over 100 Chosŏn-era copies of the History and the Essentials, and drawing on analyses of the physical books, seals of ownership, and marginal annotations, I elucidate the patterns of geographical and chronological circulation and reading of the different editions of each book and illuminate practices of reading, scholarship, and historiography in early modern Korea. In so doing, I reveal an untold history of the reception of the two histories concealed by radical changes in media in the twentieth century.

Graeme R. Reynolds specializes in the cultural and intellectual history of early modern Korea focusing on the production and circulation of knowledge, the history of the book, and historiography. His monograph investigates the Chosŏn-era (1392–1910) production, circulation, reception of the History of Koryŏ and the Essentials of Koryŏ History, two court histories on the Koryŏ dynasty (918–1392), by examining ownership seals and marginalia on extant copies. He also maintains interests in print and manuscript culture, printing technology, practices of reading, and archives. His second project will examine the ideologies and economies of movable type and woodblock in early modern Korea as part of a larger history of the reception of printing technologies. 

He received a B.A. in Asian Area Studies from the University of British Columbia in 2008, an M.A. in Korean History from the Academy of Korean Studies in 2013, and a Ph.D. in History and East Asian Languages from Harvard University in 2021.  


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