When the Future Disappears: The Modernist Imagination in Late Colonial Korea

Professor Janet Poole is the author of a forthcoming book, When the Future Disappears: The Modernist Imagination in Late Colonial Korea (Studies of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University), which will be released in November 2014. This book, which takes a panoramic view of Korea’s dynamic literary production in the final decade of Japanese rule, locates the imprint of a new temporal sense in Korean modernism. Such alertness of interruption of time, with no promise of a future, propels Korean literati under the Japanese colonial rule to produce some of the most sophisticated writings of the 20th century modernism.

Some of Korea’s well-known writers, such as Yi T’aejun, Ch’oe Myongik, Im Hwa, So Insik, Ch’oe Chaeso, Pak T’aewon, Kim Namch’on, and O Changhwan, lived through a rare colonial history in which their vernacular language was first inducted into the modern, only to be shut out again through the violence of state power. The colonial suppression of Korean-language publications was an effort to mobilize toward war, and it forced Korean writers to face the loss of their letters and craft new, creative forms of expression. Their persistent struggle reflects the stark foreclosure at the heart of the modern colonial experience. Interweaving cultural, intellectual, and literary history, Prof. Poole’s new book maps various strategies, including abstraction, irony, paradox, and even silence, that Korean writers used to narrate life within the Japanese empire.

Professor  Poole teaches Korean literature and cultural history at the University of Toronto and is a a faculty affiliate of the Centre for the Study of Korea at the Asian Institute, Munk School of Global Affairs. She has translated the works of many writers from colonial Korea, including Yi T’aejun’s Eastern Sentiments.

For more information on the book and to purchase the book, please visit: https://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-16518-1/when-the-future-disappears