Abstract

Abstract:

This paper illuminates the cultural performance of Chosŏn (1392–1910) interpreters in the nineteenth century, with a particular focus on interpreters' participation in poetry societies (sisa 詩社). The study aims to explore the cultural status of interpreters by examining the networks they built within poetry societies and to investigate whether engagement in cultural activities contributed to their social mobility in the late nineteenth century. Existing scholarship on the social mobility of the chungin (中人, "middle people") heavily relies on the influence of demographic expansion and position monopoly, at the expense of other indicators reflecting the chungin's social position such as economic, cultural, and political standing. To bridge this research gap, this research uses the cultural life of Chosŏn interpreters as a lens to examine how the chungin interacted with other groups. I use Kang Wi's (姜瑋 1820–1884) Kohwandang such'o (古歡堂收艸, "Collected Works of Kang Wi") as the primary source to extract social connections between the Poetry Society of the Sixth Bridge (Yukkyo sisa 六橋詩社), of which most members were official interpreters and medical doctors living in Hanyang, and the South Poetry Society, which was a poetry community organized by the yangban. Through analyzing clusters and patterns based on the concurrence of the participants, this study concludes that the cultural status of the chungin did not fully align with their categorization in the social hierarchy, and the social gap between the yangban and the chungin did not cease because of cultural exchanges.

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