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Performance and Aspects of Ritual in Confucian Examinations

Project by Prof. Dr. Eun-Jeung Lee

Social and ritual aspects of the examination processes in Confucian academies have not yet been comprehensively analyzed. To gain an understanding of examinations as one of the most important performative acts in the academies, it is important to analyze the strategies to imbue the examination process with validity. Ritual and performance operate on two levels in the Confucian examination setting. On one hand, rituals were the object of study and the large number of ritual guides published in the academies points to the fact that the study of ritual (yehak) was considered as important as the study of the classics (kyŏnghak). On the other hand, the examinations were themselves ritual and performative acts in which the demonstration of a specific ritual knowledge was equally examined as the technical knowledge tested in the exams. The protocol and control function of examination rituals will be examined in this subproject and also put in comparison to similar western rituals.