School, State, and Nation: Educational Rhetorics at a Korean Women's College During and After Japanese Colonization, 1918–1965
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“School, State, and Nation” examines how the leaders and students of Ewha College, founded by American missionaries in 1910 as Korea’s first college for women, used rhetorical strategies to negotiate Japanese colonial power and Korean patriarchal objectives as they pursued their educational goals during and after the Japanese colonial period (1918–1965). This project draws on a range of Korean- and English-language primary sources, including letters, reports, photographs, articles, emblems, and autobiographies, especially the work of Ewha’s last American president Alice Appenzeller (in office 1922–1939) and first Korean president Kim Hwallan (1939–1961). Analyzing these sources, I show how Ewha became a contested site for the competing agendas of the Japanese colonial state, Korean nationalists, and the school community. I argue that Appenzeller, Kim, and Ewha women generally crafted what I call “educational rhetorics,” or the rhetorical strategies leveraged to constantly re/define their school’s relationship with the Japanese state and Korean nation during and after the colonial period. I identify performance, debates about education’s utility, and confession as three categories of these educational rhetorics. “School, State, and Nation” analyzes these educational rhetorics and argues that Ewha women leveraged them during the colonial period 1) to cooperate with the Japanese state while resisting its assimilating and imperializing goals, and 2) to signal their support for Korea’s independence and welfare while insisting on women’s equality in this nationalist project, and, after Korea’s liberation in 1945, 3) to mitigate Korean criticisms of Kim’s wartime collaboration with Japan. Anglophone rhetoric scholars have increasingly diversified our understanding of how rhetoric works in environments outside the US and Europe, examined the role of schools in identify formation and promoting/stifling political activism, and studied the rhetorical power of performance, education, and confession to dis/empower marginalized groups and pursue social reform. “School, State, and Nation” builds on and complicates this rhetorical scholarship by extending it into post/colonial Korea, where the complex environment complicates national and cultural categories of rhetoric, diversifies our understanding of the rhetorical role of women’s colleges in colonial and postcolonial environments, and problematizes definitions of patriotism and collaboration.