2019 Kim-Renaud EA Humanities Lecture Series

Fri, 15 November, 2019 8:00pm

Dragon Editions and Crow Documents: Sinographic Writing in Korea’s Three Kingdoms and Early Historic Japan


Time: 3pm-5pm, Friday, November 15, 2019

Location: Rome Hall 459 (801 22nd St. NW, Washington, DC, 20052)

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures and East Asia National Resource Center.

Speaker: Dr. Marjorie Burge, University of Colorado

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This talk will explore the connections between the earliest written cultures of the Korean peninsula and the Japanese archipelago.  The earliest Japanese histories, Kojiki (712) and Nihon shoki (720), trace the arrival of Sinographic writing in Japan to scholars sent by the king of Paekche (late third century-660CE), a kingdom on the Korean peninsula.  Other early Japanese works, including the Literary Sinitic poetry collection Kaifūsō (751), emphasize the origins of written culture in Japan as connected to individuals who immigrated to the Japanese court from the Korean kingdoms. While this connection has seldom been disputed by modern scholars, its implications have been generally underestimated. Due to the paucity of extant materials from Korea’s Three Kingdoms period (Koguryǒ [ca. first century-668CE], Silla [ca. third century-935CE], and Paekche), it has been long assumed that written culture on the Korean peninsula during the first millennium was essentially indistinguishable from that of the contemporary Chinese dynasties. However, because recent archaeological discoveries have allowed for a more complex understanding of the uses of Sinographic writing in the southern kingdoms of Paekche and Silla, it is now possible to explore exactly how early Japanese written culture was built upon a foundation developed originally on the Korean peninsula.

This talk will introduce significant inscriptions from the inscribed wooden strips known as mokkan excavated from sites on the southern Korean peninsula and Japan. Based on the evidence from mokkan, this talk will argue that the rapid development of Japan’s written culture in the seventh century was predicated upon the integration of large numbers of already-literate elite immigrants from the Korean kingdoms in the aftermath of the Battle of the Paek River of 663.

Speaker Bio



Dr. Marjorie Burge (Ph.D., UC Berkeley) is Assistant Professor of Japanese in the Department of Asian Languages & Civilizations at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She received her PhD in 2018 from the University of California, Berkeley. Marjorie's 2018 dissertation is titled "Inscriptive Practice and Sinographic Literary Culture in Early Historic Korea and Japan." Marjorie received her B.A. in Asian Studies and Japanese from the George Washington University in 2008.





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