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Voices from the Straw Mat: Toward an Ethnography of Korean Story Singing (Hawaii Studies on Korea)

By bookshelf-nbe - Posted on 22 November 2010 - Update on 22 November 2010

Image of Voices from the Straw Mat: Toward an Ethnography of Korean Story Singing (Hawaii Studies on Korea)
Author: Chan E. Park
Publisher: University of Hawaii Press (2003)
Binding: Hardcover, 338 pages
From its humble "straw mat" origins to its paradoxical status as a national treasure, p'ansori has survived centuries of change and remains the primary source of Korean narrative and poetic consciousness. In this innovative work, Chan Park approaches this stylized storytelling tradition and celebrates her subject not as a static phenomenon but a living, organic tradition adapting to an ever-shifting context. Drawing on her extensive literary and performance backgrounds, Park provides insights into the relationship between language and music, singing and speaking, and traditional and modern reception. Her "performance-centered" approach to p'ansori informs the discussion of a wide range of topics, including the amalgamation of the dramatic, the narrative, and the poetic; the invocation of traditional narrative in contemporary politics; the vocal construction of gender; and the politics of preservation. Park creates a text that in many ways mirrors a p'ansori performance. Through the multiple voices of scholar, performer, student, teacher, and enthusiast, she reveals the richness of the tradition and its problematic position in Korean culture in the twentieth century and beyond. By positioning p'ansori within orality and the study of oral tradition, she offers readers an alternative to the insider-outsider, subjective-objective confines typical of ethnography, forging a new paradigm of reflexivity that interprets the workings of a tradition "in performance." As such, Voices from the Straw Mat challenges the status quo in many areas of literary studies, anthropology, and folklore beyond the confines of Korean studies.