New Publication -- "Our Temples for Tomorrow": Langston Hughes and the Making of a Democratic Korea

Submitted by Ellen Palms on

Jang Wook Huh's latest publication, “Our Temples for Tomorrow”: Langston Hughes and the Making of a Democratic Korea, is now available online. 

In 1964 a Korean scholar wrote to Langston Hughes, asking him to send some sources for publishing the “first Negro literature series” in Korea. Providing some of his books, Hughes supported the project that would feature “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” and other works. This article examines how Koreans translated “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” and other poems from the late 1940s to 1970s to explore Hughes's long-lasting influence on Korea. Korea's political landscape drastically changed during this period, punctuated by the ending of American military rule and the beginning and deepening of Korean authoritarian rule. The author argues that Korean writers, inspired by black resistance to American racism, disseminated Hughes poems to instill a sense of democracy in Koreans under the dictatorial regime. By building on scholarship of Hughes's global interactions, this article traces a transpacific legacy of Hughes's humanistic aesthetics that encouraged Koreans to envision social justice.