Modernity and Otherness: Based on Works of Bulgarian and Korean Literature

Lyudmila Atanasova

Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Republic of Korea

Abstract: The current study seeks to uncover the relationship between modernity and otherness and to explore how the processes of modernization are construed as processes of dealing with otherness in seminal literary works from Bulgaria and Korea. For countries such as these, modernity is associated with the necessity to import foreign (Western European) modes of social life, that causes societies to encounter all-encompassing otherness with which they need to deal over shorter periods of time. While regarding the societies that were under the direct colonial power of the West, modernization has been predominantly analysed in the context of postcolonial studies, modernisation processes in societies outside the colonial space have mainly been studied from the viewpoint of social development and desire for progress motivated from within the society. Inquiring into well-established theoretical explorations of modernity and otherness, the current study makes the point that the latter type of societies, to which Bulgaria and Korea belong, has not been spared from the influence of colonial discourse, which has become a reason for othering the traditional in relation to the modern in the process of modernization. The construction of the local and the traditional as otherness, or self-otherisation, is illustrated through the analysis of two works of literature from the period of modernization, that are fundamentally important in the literary canons of Bulgaria and Korea – Aleko Konstantinov’s “Bai Ganyo: Incredible Tales of a Modern Bulgarian” and Yi Kwangsu’s “Mujeong”.

Key words: otherness, self-othering, modernity, modernization, Bulgarian literature, Korean literature, postcolonial theory.

Rhetoric and Communications Journal, issue 50, January 2022

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