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Title:Performing modern Korea in the U.S.: Korean immigrants' theatrical activities in California and Hawai'i during the first half of the twentieth century
Author(s):Jeon, Young Ji
Director of Research:Lee, Esther Kim
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Robinson, Valleri
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Curry, Ramona; Yang, Caroline H.
Department / Program:Theatre
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Korean immigrants in the U.S.
Hybrid Theatrical Forms
Ethnic Nationalism
Abstract:This dissertation investigates theatrical activities by Korean immigrants in the U.S. during the first half of the twentieth century. As a result of the fact that Koreans regarded their national territory as tainted by the Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945), they developed their national identity based on ethnic commonality, and expected Korean diaspora, particularly those residing in the U.S., to lead the construction of a modern Korea by taking advantage of their distance from colonialism as well as proximity to modernity. Though largely overlooked in contemporary scholarship, Korean immigrants in the U.S. produced a variety of nationalistic activities, including theatrical performances. News of these activities was conveyed via newspapers, which were surreptitiously but widely circulated on the Korean peninsula. By using those newspapers as primary sources, this dissertation demonstrates the vibrancy of theatrical activities by Korean immigrants in the U.S. and their critical significance in the formation of ethnic nationalism in early modern Korea. This dissertation asserts that theatre was promoted as essential in the building of the modern nation, particularly when providing affective experiences with modernity by incorporating Western cultural elements. By focusing on experiments in theatre genres with which Korean immigrants in the U.S. engaged, this research illuminates the performances produced with hybrid theatrical forms – specifically docudrama, chain drama, and music drama – which facilitated the suspension of disbelief in an envisioned “pure modern” Korea by providing tangible embodiments of the illusory vision. The analysis of the historical significance of hybrid theatrical forms challenges the Korean national theatre historiography that has denounced such forms as aesthetically and politically impure. While enriching early modern Korean and Korean American theatre histories, this dissertation ultimately contributes to discourses on national theatre historiography by engaging with geographical as well as aesthetic concerns involved in writing a national theatre history.
Issue Date:2015-12-02
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Young Ji Jeon
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-03-02
Date Deposited:2015-12

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