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The Social Context of the Canonization of the Princess Bari Epic

  • Journal of Korean Literature
  • 2012, (26), pp.7-31
  • Publisher : The Society Of Korean Literature
  • Research Area : Humanities > Korean Language and Literature
  • Published : November 30, 2012

Lee, Kyungha 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article aims to examine the social context in which the Princess Bari epic came to be regarded as a canonical epic text representative of Korea. The way in which this shamanistic epic was reexamined to become one of the representative myths of Korea aptly illustrates how a text is established as a canonical work within society. This process involves the rediscovery and reinterpretation of the meaning of certain elements of the text within the given social and cultural context. The canonization process of the Princess Bari myth can be divided into four phases. The first phase, dating to the 1960~70s, witnessed the intensive study of oral literature and shamanistic epics amidst the widening social interest in traditional folk culture. In the second phase, dating to the 1980~90s, active attempts to reinterpret the Princess Bari myth took place within both the academic and arts communities, particularly amidst a heated interest in feminism. The fact that the heroine is an oppressed being within a patriarchical society, the fact that it is a worthless and abandoned daughter that is considered to be the only being that can heal an unwell society, and the fact that gut rituals and shamanistic epics are female gendered cultural forms all came to be actively reconsidered and imbued with meaning as a result of the feminist influence. In the third phase, the Princess Bari myth came to be included in Korean literature textbooks according to the 7th national curriculum standard. This was due to the spread of feminism within society, as well as the result of the academic community's continued research into the literary traditions of Korea. The inclusion of the Princess Bari myth within the national curriculum was an acknowledgement of the importance of the myth as a canonical text, as well as an event which acted to reproduce its importance as such a classic. Finally, since the beginning of the 21st century, the Princess Bari myth has come to be widely consumed by the public following its active representation in various forms, such as publishing, theatre and film, following the flourishing of the cultural contents industry.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.