Autumn hearts: literati identity politics in ‘the record of the citadel of sorrows’

Im Je

MPhil Oral Presentation

The Record of the Citadel of Sorrows 愁城志 was composed in the 16th century by the Joseon dynasty literary figure Im Je 林悌 (1549-87). In previous scholarship, this text has been accredited with a foundational role in the development of Korean literature. The current project has instead taken a historical approach to the work, more closely analysing its relationship to classical Chinese literary precedents, the immediate historical context of Im Je’s lifetime, and the underlying issue of literati identity politics, which are apparent in both text and context.

Within the text itself, Im seems particularly interested in the incongruity between the neo-Confucian moral imperative of upholding prescribed forms of conduct, and the inevitability of sorrows and suffering. There is a strong implication that sorrows will arise no matter who one is or what one might do. This theme closely correlates with the historical backdrop of the 16th century Joseon dynasty. At this time, responding to disputes over rightful monarchical succession and pervasive political turmoil, the literati were becoming increasingly concerned with identity politics, the nature of government service, and the debates regarding the relative importance of the cultivation of the state and the cultivation of the self. The case study of The Citadel offers an interesting platform for the exploration of these issues in both literature and history.


Orion Lethbridge

Dates & times

Monday, 4 May 2015

12.00pm - 1.30pm


Auditorium, China in the World Building (188), Fellows Lane, ANU

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