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Harvard poet, scholar to give lecture on Korean poetry in global circulations

March 14, 2013

David R. McCann, Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civiliaztions, and former director of the Korea Institute at Harvard University, is this year's Robert C. Staley Distinguished Visiting Professor in East Asian Studies. He will deliver a free public lecture at 4 p.m., March 20, at the University Club on Arizona State University's Tempe campus. The lecture will be followed by a public reception also at the University Club.

The title of McCann's talk is "Particle or Wave? Korean Poetry in Global Circulations."

For much of the 20th century, political features of the Korean cultural scene exerted surprisingly strong gravitational effects on the literary. Yet Shin Kyung-sook’s 2009 novel "Please Look After Mom," among other things a Best Seller in the US and winner of the 2011 Man Asian Literature Prize, demonstrated that a compelling story by a Korean author can do well internationally.

McCann asks, "Can Korean poetry in the 21st century do something similar? Performance features of Korean poetry, from sijo to minyoshi to Kim Chi Ha’s 'Messed Up Poems,' might argue for product placement right beside Psy’s global hit 'Gangnam Style'."

McCann has received several prizes, grants, and fellowships, including the Order of Cultural Merit (2006), one of the highest decorations by the Korean government, and the Manhae Prize in Arts and Sciences (2004).

His books include "Azaleas, Poems by Kim Sowôl" (Columbia University Press, 2007), "Enough to Say It’s Far," "Selected Poems of Pak Chaesam," co-translated with Jiwon Shin (Princeton University Press, Lockert Library of Poetry in Translation, 2006), "Traveler Maps: Poems by Ko Un" (Tamal Vista Press, 2004), "The Columbia Anthology of Modern KoreanPoetry" (2004), "Early Korean Literature: Selections and Introductions" (2001), and several co-edited volumes, including "War and Democracy: A Comparative Study of the KoreanWar and the Peloponnesian War" (2001) and "The Classical Moment: Views from Seven Literatures" (1999).

He has also published five books of his own poems, including "Urban Temple," a collection of his sijo, a Korean verse form, from Bo-Leaf Press in 2010 with a dual-language, Korean and English edition from Changbi Publishers in 2012.

Past Robert C. Staley Distinguished Visiting Professors in East Asian Studies include Mark Sidel from University of Wisconsin; Elizabeth Berry from UC Berkeley; John Duncan from UCLA; Peter Perdue from Harvard University; Richard Baum from UCLA; Bruce Cumings from University of Chicago; and John Dower from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Viistor parking is available in the University Club and the Fulton Center parking lots.