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Acta Koreana is published semi-annually on June 15 and December 15 by Academia Koreana, Keimyung University.
 
 
Title FEMALE DESIRE, ILLNESS, AND METAMORPHOSIS IN ‘LOVESICK SNAKE’ NARRATIVES IN SIXTEENTH-CENTURY KOREA
 
Author
JANET YOON-SUN LEE
Volume Vol. 18 No. 2
Pages pp. 521~543 (all 22 pages)
Publication Date DECEMBER, 2015
Keyword lovesickness, lovesick snake, oral tradition, medical discourse, yadam, male literati, female body, androcentric writing, Confucian norms
Abstract During the seventeenth century, a surge in fictional stories ushered in an era of romance in Korean literature, and lovesickness became a topical motif. The prototype of the lovesick figure is detected in oral stories dealing with the lovesick snake (sangsa paem) in which a lovesick woman undergoes metamorphosis into a snake. This icon of the lovesick snake has endured and persisted in written and oral traditions. This research undertakes a careful investigation of this metaphor and its meanings in various textual and cultural contexts and further explores the complex relationship of the politics of female desire, death, and metamorphosis in diverse discourses. This study reveals how the grotesque, repulsive image of serpentine transformation creates a focus on horror, alienation, and victimhood in the representation of female lovesickness. Finally, con-structs of the lovesick snake are assessed and reconsidered to expose the relationship between popular discourse and written works, uncovering a literary tendency in androcentric writing practices to associate female lovesickness with sexual and erotic illness.
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