Indigeneity Across East Asian Literatures: Centering Indigenous Perspectives in Korean Literature: Shamanic Chant as Contemporary Elegy in Kim Hyesoon’s Autobiography of Death

When and Where

Thursday, October 26, 2023 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm
EAS Lounge - 14th Floor
Robarts Library Building
130 St George Street


Ivanna Sang Een Yi, Assistant Professor, Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University


In Anishinabe scholar Gerald Vizenor’s concept, cultural survivance following colonization entails “more than survival,” asserting “an active sense of presence over absence” and the “continuance of native stories”.

This talk considers the significant role of indigenous oral traditions in the ongoing work of decolonization in South Korea. It analyses leading contemporary South Korean poet Kim Hyesoon’s Chugŭmŭi chasajŏn (Autobiography of Death, 2016) as a 21st century form of muga (songs traditionally sung by female shamans to help the souls of the dead enter the afterlife).

In the rite for the dead that Kim creates for those who perished in the 2014 Sewol Ferry disaster, Kim’s polyvocal speaker engages the embodied memory of individuals to voice the transhistorical grief of the Korean community.

Part of the Indigeneity Across East Asian Literatures Speaker Series. Curated by Assistant Professor Nathan Vedal, Department of East Asian Studies


Centre for Comparative Literature University of Toronto, Centre for the Study of Korea University of Toronto