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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

(En)Gendering a New Nation in Missionary Discourse: An Analysis of W. Arthur Noble's Ewa

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2006, v.46 no.1, pp.139-169
Hyaeweol Choi
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Abstract

The article analyzes William Arthur Noble’s novel, Ewa: A Tale of Korea (1906) as an example of missionary discourse that reflects the complex dynamics of a contact zone where Koreans and American missionaries encountered each other with drastically different cultural assumptions and developed ongoing relations in response to that contact under specific historical circumstances. It pays particular attention to Noble’s narrative as a window to understanding his western subjectivity, which is shaped and reshaped by contact. Examining the authorial motives in employing a first-person narrative, the article shows how Noble engages in a complex discourse on civilization, race, gender, and nationhood that goes beyond the typical binary oppositional spectrum that locates the West as superior and the Other as inferior. It concludes that although Noble ultimately privileges Christianity as the foundation of a new Korea, his intimate knowledge of Korea offers him a platform from which he not only represents Koreans as he understands them but also recasts his own Western culture and society through the mirror of Korean tradition.

keywords
missionary discourse nationalism gender

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Mattie Noble, (1906a1990) William Arthur Noble was born in Springville Pennsylvania in 1866 and was educated at the Wyoming Seminary and Drew Theological Seminary He was appointed as a missionary to Korea by the Methodist Church in the United States in 1892 along with his wife They retired in 1934 It is noteworthy that the picture of Ewa on the first page of the book is the picture of a gisaeng the hair style of the woman in the photography suggests she is married according to the story Ewa hardly has time to pose for a picture after she married because she was beaten to death by her master it is reasonable to speculate that the novel is a mix of historical and fictional stories,

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From this general trait, In his discussion of nationalism Calhoun points out that nationalisms have been overwhelmingly male ideologies in the way that national strength is defined so often as international potency and military power men are treated as potential martyrs while women are mainly their mothers it is interesting to note that Noble makes a case for Ewa whose courage to prioritize her religion and national mandate over her own personal happiness becomes a model for Sung-yo and even Tong-sik University of Minnesota Press,

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See Betty Deberg, (1990) It might be argued that her sacrifice may also be influenced by the Christian idea of death and true reward in the spiritual world Gender and the First Wave of American Fundamentalism, Fortress Press

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Noble, (1906a) George Gilmore makes an interesting observation on womens seclusion as follows It is to be noted that women after becoming acquainted with us and our ways have shown no reluctance to meeting gentlemen and are fond of paying visit to the wives of such foreigners as they know often manifesting not the slightest embarrassment at being seen even for the first time by strange gentlemen But were a male Korean visitor to enter the room his entrance would be the signal for their instant withdrawal,

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using a traditional gender ideology, (19131906a1906a) In a fascinating debate on the voting rights of married women missionaries in Korea Annie Baird argues against the voting rights She says of women as a sex we seem to [be] credited with being ruled largely by our sensibilities and being consequently unable to take a purely impersonal view of debated questions Votes or Not for Married Women in Station and Mission,

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like gaudy butterflies, (1906a) Noble portrays Korean dancing girls as follows Bbut the gaudy play-thing of the rich and idlethe professional dancing girlremained Grim war has no terrors for her the fierce hand of hate grows soft and gracious in paint and silks not to partake of the feast but to nestle near with shy glances giving the occasion a sense of voluptuousness and luxury,

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Yeoksa HakhoeThe Korean Historical Association, (1998) Nobi, Nongno, Noye, Seoul: Iljogak

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