Voices from the Straw Mat
Toward an Ethnography of Korean Story Singing
Publication Year: 2003
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
If you wish to be a good singer, you must first be a human being,” the elders said. This aphorism sums up the legacy left by my teacher Chŏng Kwŏnjin–sŏnsaengnim, 1 who could not overemphasize the essence of humanity as the fundamental strength in p’ansori, a story-singing tradition from premodern Korea. His prerequisite...
Storytelling takes place in a fundamentally amorphous physical setting, requiring only a teller and a listener. The realm of the story is located within the voice of the teller. A far cry from...
Part One: From Straw Mat to Proscenium and Back
Introduction to Part One
If art is a reflection of society, it evolves as society changes. Insofar as the society is “a world in becoming, not a world in being,”1 artistic expression as human social metaphor would at its best be in transformative modes. “Meaning” in narrative art is a function of the relationship between...
1. Locating Kinship
A recent folkloric debate concerns the performative relationship between ritual and entertainment. A particularly engaging issue is how, in the emergence of performance genres from ritual traditions, the concept of performance shifts. No written documents...
P’ansorideveloped in the nineteenth century to become a favored form of entertainment among royal and aristocratic patrons and audiences. Still outcast, it strove to naturalize its own contradictory existence. The language of p’ansori reveals a unique sociolinguistic construction, “keyed” to entertain social superiors. 1 A blend...
3. "Singing Theater"
Modern Korean drama is often viewed as disconnected from the past. At the inception of modernity, traditional kwangdae accommodated experiments toward the modern. Critical in the shaping of modern Korean drama, they later became excluded in the violent departure toward Westernization. The...
4. Narrating Faith, Resistance, and Healing
P’ansori’s thematic concerns are often oversimplified as a dichotomy between the folk and the Neo-Confucian. Underneath the dyadic simplicity lies a complex network of themes, ideologies, and applications. From...
Part Two: Ethnography of a Voice
Introduction to Part Two
In an artistic text, “the language is more than the neutral bearer of meaning. It is part of the meaning. Hence the information of a particular belletristic work can be conveyed only via that particular ordering of language.”1 For an artistic text...
5. Acquiring Sori
There are three modes of narrativity in p’ansori: sori, the singing; aniri, the speaking; and ch’angcho, the recitative in between singing and speaking. This ethnography of p’ansori singing focuses on the point where narrative lyricism converges with the musical poetics of the sori. This chapter explores...
6. Narrating the Interior
What does p’ansori singing look like from the interior, from the perspective of the singer, the audience, and the learner? In p’ansori, the physicality of singing is inevitably related to the mentality of the person maneuvering the voice. Beyond the culture of...
7. Negotiating Tradition, Gender, Self
What little discussion there has been of gender in p’ansori has been more or less limited to psychosociological analyses of females in Confucian narratives. Although women have been narrating these stories for over a century, rarely is anything heard about them besides basic biographical data. Apparently...
8. The "Authentic" Audience
In labor and in leisure, p’an conceptualizes an imagined frame of participation, where “performance” is sublimated as a ritual process. An art of storytelling is not only developed via “telling” but also tuned in “listening.” In modern...
9. The Cross-Cultural Voice
Dance and instrumental arts, with their nonverbal modes of communication, freely cross regional and national boundaries. Verbal art for its language-dependency is less able to cross to another shore. In transnational...
A traditional “voice” departs its native land and migrates to a new soil. There, it adapts to a new climate, culture, audience, and language to emerge with a new identity. Its journey invokes the minority discourse of displacement, alienation, and assimilation in America. Eventually...
Publication Year: 2003
OCLC Number: 680317473
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