March 25th, 2016

visor sneer

생일과 지난 주말

My birthday was a few days ago and I am happy to announce that, for the first time since I first got Facebook, nobody posted on my wall telling me happy birthday! I removed my birthdate from Facebook years ago because I find it kind of... dishonest, I guess? My close friends either have my birthdate jotted down in a calendar or remember it, and I appreciate that greatly.

I had class that day, but afterwards I met up with Nick and we got 감자탕. Then I came home and ate a shit ton of candy. No regrets.

Last weekend, on Saturday, I met up with Nick and Kay and we went to a buffet at Cheongnyangni to celebrate my birthday. I also decided that my mission for the day was to find a light summer/fall jacket - I seem to have begun avoiding sweatshirts and hoodies so it made sense. Found a nice jacket at the UNIQLO at Wangsimni.

That evening I met up with Kate, Kristy, and Em, who was visiting Seoul for a class. They were super sweet and remembered it was my birthday. Due to Kate leaving Korea in early/mid May and Kristy leaving in August, our little "group" is officially about to be dismantled. Yet again I get to experience close friends leaving Korea, with the likelihood of actually meeting again - all together, in one room - extraordinarily low. I'm trying not to dwell on it too much. Anyways, we got southern barbecue at Manimal in Itaewon, then found a nice noraebang at Chungjeongro where we sang for (no joke) 3 hours. We all nearly lost our voices at the end of that.

Sunday I met up with Aram, a Korean friend, and we wandered around Jongno, Insadong, and Samcheongdong. Got coffee and talked for a while before getting 순대국밥 for dinner. Roughly 5.5 hours of non-stop Korean... yikes.

Class is kind of like... whatever? Mondays I have Research Methodology, which is more or less a philosophy class. Two students in the class, and neither of us understand what we're studying at all. Tuesday is Semiotics, which is simultaneously very interesting and incredibly confusing, since it's sort of where literature and linguistics meet. Wednesday and Friday is Classical Novel, which currently has six students but will be down to five or four in a week or two, and as a result I'm kind of freaking out a bit. It is interesting, although I don't know what the hell is going on sometimes. Thursday is my modern novel class. The professor knows his shit but it's seriously been four weeks since classes started and we still haven't read a novel... not complaining.
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visor sneer


This started as part of the last post I wrote (yeah, like two minutes ago), but I decided to copy/paste it into its own post for easy perusal in the future. This is about my future thesis (theses?).

A little more about modern novel class this week. One of the most common questions I keep getting asked is, "Do you know what you're going to do for your thesis?" For the most part I've been pretty non-committal, because I felt like I didn't have a strong enough background in Korean literature yet to make a decision. Yesterday my professor asked me and I said that I was planning on doing something with gender theory, particularly masculinity. (I also have a strong interest in reader-response theory, and depending on how I feel after I use it for my term paper for semiotics class this semester, I'll contemplate it a little more deeply.) Anyways, I told him that, and also that I didn't know which author and novels to focus on. He proceeded to spend roughly a half hour suggesting authors and novels, including 공지영, 공옥선, 김민수, 박완서, 박경리, 이상경 (식민지 시대... 헉), and also suggested a few gender studies researchers whose works I should take a look at. I mentioned this to Aram later, and he asked a literature-aware friend, who suggested various authors and novels, with a bit of a focus on gay themes. Some more authors and stories nobody will care about but me: 한강의 [에우르파], [파란 돌], 성석제의 [믜리도 괴리도 업시], 배수아의 [에세이스트의 책상]과 [훌] (젠더가 드러나지 않는 방식이라고 해서 젠더이론과 독자 바능이론 중심으로 논문을 쓸까...?), 윤이형의 [루카], 손경아의 [누나가 사랑했든 내가 사랑했든], and 박민규의 [핑퐁]. And based on my own experience, 최윤 may be a reasonable option for gender studies.

I think it's safe to say that, due to my lacking 경상도 사투리 지식, 박경리 is out. I'm also not terribly interested in 식민지 writing, so perhaps I'll drop 이상경 as well. 공옥선 apparently writes a lot about 전라도에 위치하는 여성 노동자 which fulfills a couple of interests. 김민수 and 박완서 discuss 기업 남성/노동자 여성 결혼, as well as other familial issues. And 공지영 has a lot of interesting 남성의 영향을 받은 여성 인물들, and I also consider her novella 인간에 대한 예의 to be one of my favorite works of Korean literature, so that's a point in her favor. 배수아 also seems interesting (for my reasoning, see above). The other gay stories all seems to be short stories/novellas, which may not be enough for a full thesis, unfortunately. I'll have to either write about one work, or more generally about an author's works during a certain period. My 선배 wrote about 박완서 for her master's thesis (her 초기 stage, I believe), so I think I'll probably pass on 박완서 while I'm at it. Plus, me being me, I'm not a particularly big fan of doing what everyone else is doing. Give me a more obscure, less-studied topic any day of the week. Which, uh, is kind of how my interest in masculinity studies came about. And reader-response theory. And why I'm majoring in Korean Literature. And why I started studying Russian. Good lord, I'm ridiculous.

Anyways, my professor also suggested a topic for my (very) future (if it ever happens) PhD thesis: comparing the representations of women in 1950s/1960s literature to representations in 1990s/2000s literature. That's a little more woman-focused than I'd prefer, but it's a terrific idea. I could always reverse it and focus on male characters instead. And that, my ducklings, is how you get a unique topic of study; take the obvious subject and reverse it. Bam.

Anyways, none of this really matters as of yet. I'll have to make firm decisions a semester or two (or three, gulp) from now. For the time being, I'll just make an effort to seek out works by the mentioned authors, do some reading of academic papers, and try my best not to be a lazy SOB. Easier said than done.
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