Titel of dissertation: Communicating Female Voicelessness: A Feminist-Narratological Study of Pak Wansô’s Short Stories from the 1970s

Supervisors: Prof. Sonja Häussler, Stockholm University, and Prof. Anders Cullhed, Stockholm University

Opponent: Associate professor Anastasia A. Guryeva, docent, Saint Petersburg State University

Language of the defence: English

This study focuses on seven short stories written by the South Korean author Pak Wansô (1931-2011) in the 1970s. Pak was one of the most established contemporary female authors in South Korea. Not only did she describe her painful experiences of the Korean War, she accurately depicted a country experiencing major socio-economic and cultural transformation and how that affected the lives of middle-class women. When Pak made her literary debut in the 1970s, she was one of the very few female writers in a male-dominated literary scene. Pak had to find ways to legitimise her right as a woman, a social group that had been marginalised and was almost absent in public debate, to be heard and make her depiction of women’s experiences and interests important.

For the analysis of Pak’s short stories from the 1970s, a feminist-narratological approach, inspired by the American theorist Susan Sniader Lanser, has been chosen. Feminist-narratology was a part of the reconceptualisation of narratology which occurred in the 1980s, recognising the connection between gender of the author/narrator and narrative form. In order for an author or a text to gain authority it must respond to different types of audiences, readers, social norms and aesthetical values and power relations within the cultural sphere. Thus, when studying the narrative voice or the point of view in a text one has to consider that it not only carries a certain message but the narrative technique itself is an expression of ideology.

The study demonstrates that one essential component in Pak’s stories is the use of a homodiegetic narrator, and the stories are focalised through the female protagonist. The narrator/main character is telling her own story, so she has the possibility to analyse and reflect on her experiences. When it comes to women’s roles as authors and narrators, the issue of absence is also important. Authority can be given to a particular point of view by repetition and emphasizing a single character’s stance. To gain authority can be a subversive act by a female author/narrator in a context where women, due to their subordinate position, have been marginalised and silenced. By focusing on strategies addressing the narrator and by highlighting certain narratological devices, the study argues that Pak communicates the narrator’s point of view and the story’s ideology through narrative technique.

Keywords: Pak Wansô, South Korean Women’s Literature, South Korean Literature in the 1970s, Feminist Literary Theory, Feminist-Narratology, Susan Sniader Lanser, Narrative Voice

Thesis (incl abstract) will be available from Nov. 4th. in DiVA.

Digital Procedure
Due to the current covid-19 situation, the defence will take place via the digital meeting platform Zoom. The public will have the possibility to participate and ask questions, without physical presence.

Follow these steps
1. Download the Zoom client (plugin) to your computer or the Zoom app to your smartphone.

2. Access to the webinar https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/69317838405
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3. The defence opens to the public at 9.45 AM. As a member of the audience, you will see and hear the chair, the PhD candidate, the examiner and the examination committee. You will neither be seen nor heard.

4. At the end of the defence you have the opportunity to pose questions to the PhD candidate. Choose the Q & A function at the bottom of the Zoom screen, and you will be put on queue.