Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, East Asian Studies, University of Toronto

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1999
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
East Asian Languages & Cultures, Columbia University
Time and the Colonial City: Modernisms of 1930s Korea

Through an examination of the literature of Korea under Japanese colonial rule (1910-45), my dissertation will show how a variety of modernist writing practices arose as responses to the physical and epistemological encounter with industrial modernity under the unequal terms of colonial rule. It will describe three kinds of modernism which appeared in the 1930s: avant-gardism, traditionalism, and lyricism. Although only the avant-garde has been discussed as modernism in previous literary histories, I argue that the distinct temporalities and spatial parameters represented in the narratives of traditionalism and lyricism are also responses to the historical conditions of colonial modernity and thus should be analysed as "colonial modernisms." These temporalities­ -of the past and eternal contemporaneity, respectively--and the idealised rural spaces they accompany produce the conception of a precolonial, precapitalist Korea. Yet, these should not be understood as anti-colonial nationalist works, but rather as forms of a modernist nativism, conceived in the city, which could work to image a space for capitalist, and hence Japanese imperialist, hegemony within Korea.