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Mary Tilton
Patten Foundation

Last modified: Tuesday, April 1, 2003

South Korean scholar to discuss importance of humanities in today's world

With war raging in the Middle East and more international crises looming, including a possible nuclear threat on the Korean Peninsula, the value of humanistic studies may seem, to some, insignificant.

But according to Uchang Kim, professor of English at Korea University in Seoul, Republic of Korea, this is precisely the time to re-embrace the humanities. It is within the humanities that Professor Kim, who will deliver two Patten Lectures at Indiana University Bloomington next week, finds traditions in both Eastern and Western philosophical thought that can help us preserve human values, creativity and tolerance.

At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, in Business 219, Kim will reflect on the general situation of the humanities in today's world during his lecture, "Margins of Indeterminacy: Humanistic Studies Today, East and West."

His second lecture, "Poetics of Presence: Korean Writing in the Post-Democracy Movement Era," uses the example of Korea to examine the seriousness of modernization in society and the threat it poses to the quality and meaning of our lives. It will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 10, in Woodburn Hall 120. Both lectures are free and open to the public.

Uchang Kim is a leading advocate of the importance of the humanities, shaper of opinion in South Korea and an active participant in literary movements in the Third World. He has been recognized with a number of national and international honors, including the 2001 Paeksang Award for the best book (Politics and the Life World) published in any field in Korea.

Kim came to prominence in Korea during the 1980s as a champion of culture and humanist values then under assault by the 25-year forced march toward modernization in Korea. He rose to critique the enormous cultural and social costs of economic growth as well as the worship of commercialism. Kim, who has taught at Harvard University, Cambridge University and Tokyo University, is currently a visiting professor at the University of California, Irvine. Since March 22, he has been on the Bloomington campus as a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study.

William T. Patten, an 1893 IU graduate, envisioned the Patten Lectures as a way to enrich the intellectual life of the IU campus. Since its inception in 1937, the Patten Foundation has brought more than 130 world-renowned speakers to IU.

For more details on the upcoming event, contact Mary Tilton, executive director of the Patten Foundation, at 812-855-6398 or

The Web site for the Patten Lectures is