Center-Published Book Named Outstanding Academic Title

The lat­est title in the Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies Hawai‘i Stud­ies on Korea series has been named to the Choice mag­a­zine list of out­stand­ing aca­d­e­m­ic titles for 2012. The hon­or was con­ferred on Sol­diers on the Cul­tur­al Front: Devel­op­ments in the Ear­ly His­to­ry of North Kore­an Lit­er­a­ture and Lit­er­ary Pol­i­cy by Tatiana Gabroussenko of the Aus­tralian Nation­al Uni­ver­si­ty. The series is pub­lished for the Cen­ter by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai‘i Press.

Choice is a pub­li­ca­tion of the Asso­ci­a­tion for Col­lege & Research libraries, a divi­sion of the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion. More than 25,000 aca­d­e­m­ic librar­i­ans, fac­ul­ty, and key deci­sion mak­ers rely on its reviews for col­lec­tion devel­op­ment and schol­ar­ly research. Choice reach­es most of the under­grad­u­ate col­lege and uni­ver­si­ty libraries in the Unit­ed States. The 2012 Out­stand­ing Aca­d­e­m­ic Titles list appears in the Jan­u­ary 2012 issue of the magazine.

Gabroussenko’s book was cho­sen from among some sev­en thou­sand titles reviewed by Choice dur­ing the past year. Select­ed titles were cho­sen for “their excel­lence in schol­ar­ship and pre­sen­ta­tion, the sig­nif­i­cance of their con­tri­bu­tion to the field, and their val­ue as impor­tant – often the first – treat­ment of their subject.”

Sol­diers on the Cul­tur­al Front rep­re­sents the first con­sis­tent research on the ear­ly his­to­ry of North Korea’s lit­er­a­ture and lit­er­ary pol­i­cy in West­ern schol­ar­ship. It traces the intro­duc­tion and devel­op­ment of Sovi­et-orga­nized con­ven­tions in North Kore­an lit­er­ary pro­pa­gan­da and inves­ti­gates why the “romance with Moscow” was des­tined to be short lived. It recon­structs the biogra­phies and world­views of major per­son­al­i­ties who shaped North Kore­an lit­er­a­ture and teas­es these his­tor­i­cal fig­ures out of pop­u­lar schol­ar­ly myth and mis­con­cep­tion. The book also inves­ti­gates the spe­cif­ic forms of con­trol over intel­lec­tu­als and lit­er­ary mat­ters in North Korea. Con­sid­er­ing the unique phe­nom­e­non of North Kore­an lit­er­ary cri­tique, the author ana­lyzes the polit­i­cal cam­paigns and purges of 1947–1960 and inves­ti­gates the role of North Kore­an crit­ics as “political exe­cu­tion­er­s” in these events. She draws on an impres­sive vari­ety and num­ber of sources—ranging from inter­views with Kore­an and Sovi­et par­tic­i­pants, pub­lic and fam­i­ly archives, and mem­oirs to orig­i­nal lit­er­ary and crit­i­cal texts—to present a bal­anced and eye-open­ing work that will ben­e­fit those inter­est­ed in not only under­stand­ing North Kore­an lit­er­a­ture and soci­ety, but also rethink­ing forms of social­ist moder­ni­ty else­where in the world. 

For more infor­ma­tion about the book and oth­er titles in the Hawai’i Stud­ies on Korea series, see http://www.hawaii.edu/korea/pages/Publications/books.html.