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  • P-ISSN1229-0076
  • E-ISSN2773-9351

“Speaking Women” and Performativity in Dialogic Texts in Colonial Korea

The Review of Korean Studies, (P)1229-0076; (E)2773-9351
2020, v.23 no.2, pp.87-125
https://doi.org/10.25024/review.2020.23.2.005
신지영 (연세대학교)

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Abstract

The article examines housewives and professional women’s roundtable discussions, housemaids’ writings, and hostesses’ writings featured in the magazines for women in the 1930s, including Singajeong (The New Family) and Yeoseong (The Voice of Women), through which I will interrogate the significance and the limits of women’s right to speak, and performativity of these women’s speech acts and their involvement with one another. In the discursive space of the 1930s’ new family, the figure of housewife or professional woman functioned as a form of “veil” to grant women access to the public space. However, in this space, the right to speak was confined to the topic of family or matters that were considered “feminine.” Although such simultaneous permission and restriction made their position precarious, these women were able to appropriate and transform these “veils” and deploy various rhetorical strategies to bypass the limits imposed on their right to speak. Although women were divided and hierarchized along the lines of class, ethnicity, and race, it turned out that they were deeply involved with one another in reproductive and affective labor, which hints at the possibility of a new form of commons. The case in point includes the way in which the housemaids and hostesses were “addressed” in the housewives and professional women’s roundtable discussions, the role of rumor in housemaids’ writing, and the hostesses’ attempt at forming a new public forum. Thus, the paper signals the need for listening to and translating the performative speech acts by women who had been involved with one another in spite of their difference in class and position within the sphere of family, even as they were marginalized from the public forums and fragmented by capitalism, colonialism, and patriarchy.

keywords
the new family (singajeong) hooded dress/veil (sseugaechima) housewives and professional women’s roundtable discussions housemaids and hostesses’ writing feminist commons

The Review of Korean Studies