Poole, Janet

Janet Poole (Ph.D., Columbia University)
Associate Professor & Graduate Coordinator
Department of East Asian Studies
Office Phone: 416-946-5105
Office Location: Robarts Library #14097 (14th Floor)
E-mail: janet.poole@utoronto.ca

My research focuses on the relationship between aesthetics and formations of colonialism and postcolonial national division, explored through literature, film, art and material culture.  I have just completed a cultural history, titled When the Future Disappears: The Modernist Imagination of Late Colonial Korea, which looks at literature, literary criticism, philosophy, and photography under fascist colonial rule.  My current interests lie in antiquarianism and twentieth century writings on Korean aesthetics.  Other smaller projects deal with photographic practices during the colonial period and with the status of colonial ruins in the present.  For the future, I am interested in working on the formation of a North Korean national culture in the 1950/60s.

Literary translation is an important practice through which I explore the rhetoric and aesthetics of colonial Korea, as well as my own capacity as a writer.  I have published Eastern Sentiments, a translation of anecdotal essays by colonial Korea’s most famous antiquary, Yi T’aejun, and I am now translating a collection of Yi’s short stories, which includes his later works written in North Korea.

All of these interests are integrated into the courses I teach, which stress the pleasures and challenges of thinking through theories of translation, of narrative, of images and objects in the broad context of colonialism and modernity.

Academic Background:

  • Ph.D. East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University (Dissertation: Colonial Interiors: Modernist Fiction of Korea)
  • M.A. Korean Literature, University of Hawai’i at Manoa
  • B.A. (Honours) Japanese and Korean, University of London

Major Publications:

  • Yi T’aejun. Eastern Sentiments (Weatherhead Books on Asia). Translated with an introduction.by Janet Poole. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.


  • Thinking About Things: Material Culture in East Asia;
  • Translation and Modernity;
  • The Global Bildungsroman: Narratives of Development, Time and Colonialism;
  • Aesthetics and Politics in 20th century Korea;
  • Modernism and Colonial Korea

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