Organized Panel Session
The circulation of textual materials has helped forge the East Asian region into an identifiable cultural entity. The process of this circulation frequently manifests in paratexts—elements that frame the main text such as titles, author names and prefaces. Collectively, our papers argue that the study of paratexts offers a productive avenue for investigating the mechanisms of cultural adaptation, revealing how historical actors, from imperial courts to educated non-elites, reshaped existing cultural products as they migrated across time and space.
By bringing together book history, comparative literature, social history, and digital humanities, our panel illuminates from multiple angles the transformative function of paratexts. Much like the perpetual repackaging of commercial products, alterations to paratexts impose new meanings. Du’s paper redefines what constitutes paratexts in early literature, identifying new sources for understanding Han era reinterpretations of pre-imperial writing. Duffy’s study, by juxtaposing medieval Chinese and Japanese prefaces associated with a single festival, uncovers how this genre negotiated ritual dynamics in their respective courts. Through digital analysis of prefatory materials, Yoo sheds light on how the Chosŏn government reshaped the reception of Chinese poetry. Bohnet’s study retraces the fabrication of spurious titles and authors in eighteenth-century Korea, showing how it transformed the descendants of unwanted refugees into courtiers.
To maximize our engagement with the audience, paper materials will be made available online, where the public can post questions and comments (https://paratextsacrosseastasia.cargo.site/). Our concise presentations and the discussant’s response will be followed by interaction with our live and virtual audience.