Legislation to change Korean society along Confucian lines began at the founding of the Chosŏn dynasty in 1392 and had apparently achieved its purpose by the mid seventeenth century. Until this important new study, however, the nature of Koryŏ society, the stresses induced by the new legislation, and society’s resistance to the Neo-Confucian changes imposed by the Chosŏn elite have remained largely unexplored.
To explain which aspects of life in Koryŏ came under attack and why, Martina Deuchler draws on social anthropology to examine ancestor worship, mourning, inheritance, marriage, the position of women, and the formation of descent groups. To examine how Neo-Confucian ideology could become an effective instrument for altering basic aspects of Koryŏ life, she traces shifts in political and social power as well as the cumulative effect of changes over time. What emerges is a subtle analysis of Chosŏn Korean social and ideological history.
An epoch-making book for Asian studies.
Martina Deuchler’s latest contribution to our gradually growing historical literature on traditional Korea is a richly detailed and cogently argued treatment of the relationship between intellectual and social change from the Koryŏ (936–1392) through the mid-Chosŏn (1392–1910) dynasties. It is a complex and multi-layered study that is amenable to interpretation in a number of ways… [A] magnificent scholarly achievement.
An outstanding contribution to our understanding of Chosŏn society and the power and implications of Confucian ritual. It offers insight into some of the most puzzling and disturbing features of Chosŏn society.
- 456 pages
- 6-3/8 x 9-3/8 inches
- Harvard University Asia Center
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