Unearthing Written Cultures of Ancient Korea and Japan

Unearthing Written Cultures of Ancient Korea and Japan

Marjorie Burge - Assistant Professor of Japanese, University of Colorado Boulder

Monday, October 5, 2020 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
via Zoom See map

This talk explores the connections between the earliest written cultures of the Korean peninsula and the Japanese archipelago through an examination of inscriptions on wooden strips known as mokkan. Recently excavated inscribed materials have provided new insight into the uses of Sinographic writing in the southern peninsular kingdoms of Paekche (ca. late third century-660CE) and Silla (ca. third century-935CE), such that it is now possible to investigate how early Japanese written culture was built upon a foundation developed on the Korean peninsula. Through an exploration of inscribed mokkan excavated from Paekche and Silla sites, I will demonstrate the indispensability of this foundation for the rapid expansion of written culture in late seventh-century Japan. In addition, I will argue that the speed of this expansion was only possible through the integration of large numbers of already-literate immigrants from the peninsula in the aftermath of the Battle of the Paek River of 663.

Marjorie Burge is Assistant Professor of Japanese at University of Colorado Boulder. She completed her PhD in Japanese at the University of California Berkeley in 2018. Her dissertation, titled “Inscriptive Practice and Sinographic Literary Culture in Early Korea and Japan,” focuses on the written cultures of early Japan and the Korean kingdoms Paekche (ca. late third century-660CE) and Silla (third century-935CE).


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Japan, Korea