The Confucian Transformation Of Korea

Overview

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, ...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

American Historical Review
An epoch-making book for Asian studies.
London Journal of Asian Studies

An outstanding contribution to our understanding of Choson society and the power and implications of Confucian ritual. It offers insight into some of the most puzzling and disturbing features of Choson society.

Harvard Journal of Asiatic 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 Koryo (936-1392) through the mid-Choson (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.
— John Duncan

London Journal Of Asian Studies
An outstanding contribution to our understanding of Choson society and the power and implications of Confucian ritual. It offers insight into some of the most puzzling and disturbing features of Choson society.
Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies - John Duncan
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 Koryo (936-1392) through the mid-Choson (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.
American Historical Review
An epoch-making book for Asian studies.
— American Historical Review
Harvard Journal of Asiatic 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 Koryo (936-1392) through the mid-Choson (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.
— John Duncan
London Journal of Asian Studies
An outstanding contribution to our understanding of Choson society and the power and implications of Confucian ritual. It offers insight into some of the most puzzling and disturbing features of Choson society.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Martina Deuchler is Professor of Korean Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
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Table of Contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

INTRODUCTION: SOCIETY AND IDEOLOGY

The Contours of Korean Society in Late Chosŏn

The Transmission of Confucianism to Korea

The Early Formation of Korean Neo-Confucianism

Neo-Confucianism as an Ideology of Change

THE PRE-CONFUCIAN PAST: A RECONSTRUCTION OF KORYŎ SOCIETY

Kinship and Descent

Succession and Inheritance

Marriage in Koryŏ: Sociopolitical Aspects

Marriage in Koryŏ: Institutional Aspects

Mourning and Funerary Rites

Conclusions: Koryŏ Society Reconsidered

NEO-CONFUCIANISM: THE IDEOLOGICAL FOUNDATION OF SOCIAL LEGISLATION IN EARLY CHOSŎN

The Rise of New Dynastic Forces

The Intellectual Formation of the New Elite

The Disintegration of Koryŏ Society and the Buddhist Question

In Search of a New Societal Model

The Reorganization of Society

The Neo-Confucians' Research Sources and Institutions

The Relevance of Ancient Models Assimilation and Conflict

Elitism and Ideology

AGNATION AND ANCESTOR WORSHIP

The Neo-Confucian View of Society

The Introduction of Ancestor Worship

The First Contours of a Lineal Concept

Lineal Succession and Ancestor Worship

Ancestor Worship and Secondary Sons

Ancestor Worship and Women

Non-Agnatic Succession

Genealogies as Descent Group Charts

Ancestral Rites: Economic Aspects

Ancestral Rites: Institutional Aspects

Ritual Literature

Ancestral Kites: Religious Aspects

Toward Implementing Ritual Primogeniture

MOURNING AND FUNERARY RITES

Prelude to Revised Mourning

The Transformation of the Mourning Grades

Ritual Aspects

Funerary Rituals and Geomancy

INHERITANCE

The State and Private Property

The Agnatic Principle and Inheritance

Wills and Regulations Affecting Inheritance

Inheritance and Women

From Ritual to Economic Primogeniture

CONFUCIAN LEGISLATION: THE CONSEQUENCES FOR WOMEN

The Institutionalizing of Primary and Secondary Wives

Marriage Rules and Strategies

The Confucian-Style Wedding Ceremony

The Royal Wedding Ceremony

The Korean Wedding Ceremony

Training and Indoctrination of Women

Life in the Husband's Household

The Married Woman's Legal and Ritual Functions

Secondary Wives and Their Sons

The Dissolution of the Conjugal Bond

Widowhood and Remarriage

The Confucians' Immutable Image of Women

CONCLUSIONS: THE EMERGENCE OF A LINEAGE SOCIETY

NOTES

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

GLOSSARY

INDEX

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