A Visit to the First Chapter of Korean Popular Music History: A Critical Introduction of Brother Is A Street Musician - Viewing the Landscape of Modernity through Popular Songs and Translation Excerpts

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2026-06-06

Date

2024

Authors

Han, Seulbin

Advisors

Chow, Eileen Cheng-yin

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Abstract

Brother Is a Street Musician – Viewing the Landscape of Modernity Through Popular Songs by Zhang Eujeong was originally published in Korean in 2006. Described as a “fascinating journey upstream into the past to understand where the current will bring the future of Korean pop music,” (Busan Ilbo Review, 2009) Brother Is a Street Musician does not deal with contemporary K-Pop; rather, it visits the first chapter of Korea’s popular music history, which coincided with Japanese colonization in the first half of the 20th century. Combining archival research with a critical analysis of the earliest popular songs, the early recording industry, the first modern era musicians and composers, and the first formation of the consumer masses, Zhang’s book seeks to address the essential question – how did a colonized people construct their own, unique form of popular culture? Today, popular music from Korea has established itself as a formidable, global cultural phenomenon, garnering the interest of not only the power players in the global music industry, but also scholars in many cross-disciplinary fields. As an academic inquiry into the first moment in the history of popular music from Korea, an English translation of this book will be an essential resource in today’s lively conversations around the emerging field of Korean popular music. Furthermore, as a companion to more books coming from Korea to meet the growing demand for resources with diverse perspectives in the study of popular music and culture from the periphery, this book can spur on thoughtful discussions about how dialogue between English academia and the academia of host-language countries/regions, facilitated by translation, can progressively enrich the way we expand knowledge about transnational phenomena as they flow across time, borders, and languages.

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Subjects

Asian studies, Music history, Archival Studies, Japanese Colonial Period, Korea, Popular Culture, Popular Music, Translation

Citation

Citation

Han, Seulbin (2024). A Visit to the First Chapter of Korean Popular Music History: A Critical Introduction of Brother Is A Street Musician - Viewing the Landscape of Modernity through Popular Songs and Translation Excerpts. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/31031.

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