Samuel E. Perry


Brown University

Writing Feminism in Red: Reading Contradictions in and around Kang Kyŏng-ae's In'gan munje (1934)

The dominant paradigm of scholarship on 1930s leftist literature has worked largely within the erroneous assumption that relations between proletarian politics and a burgeoning feminism were characterized more by an antagonism than by an affiliation or solidarity. This is often just as true for those outwardly hostile to the Communist Party and its literary institutions as it is for those who turn, in a more affirming way, to revolutionary fiction written by Marxist and socialist women as a way of unearthing a "resistance" to the patriarchal undercurrents of the proletarian movement itself. Focusing on Kang Kyŏng-ae's 1934 newspaper novel In'gan munje, my paper draws on a distinction between "doctrinal" and "generic" contradictions in order to find a language whereby we might ground a study of revolutionary fiction within a practice that dignifies women's self-conscious commitment to communism. I ask in particular what consequences the generic contradictions embedded in Kang's work have for the shaping of gender in Kang's most famous novel.