Professor Janet Poole’s book awarded MSA Book Prize

October, 2015
Professor Janet Poole’s book, When the Future Disappears: The Modernist Imagination in Late Colonial Korea, won the Modernist Studies Association Book Prize. Congratulations!


In the words of the MSA’s prize committee: “When the Future Disappears is both a remarkable work of literary history and a groundbreaking meditation on modernisms across temporal and political regimes and transnational contexts. Poole accounts with striking range and fluency for the complex field of literary production in Korea during the final decade of its colonial occupation by Japan. In that fraught moment, she argues, a distinctive but broadly consequential modernism took shape. Faced with the colonial suppression of their native language and state control of publication and literary institutions, Korean writers were compelled to represent the loss of their language, their past, and their sense of the future, mobilizing modes of irony, paradox, abstraction, and silence to represent the lived experience of being and becoming modern as colonial subjects of Japan. Even for readers with no knowledge of Korean language or literature, Poole’s readings of key texts and figures makes a richly detailed case that Korea’s literary project, taking shape in the moment of global fascism, offers some of the most ambitious and provocative works of twentieth-century modernism across the globe. Her analysis not only creates a powerful framework for constituting Korean modernism as such. It repeatedly moves through Anglo-European modernism, and takes on the broader problem of accounting for temporal rupture, state violence, and the experience of colonization as generative conditions of cultural production. Deftly braiding literary history and textual readings with cultural and intellectual history, Poole has produced a work that models new, bracing possibilities for global and transnational modernist study, and for bold rethinking of the paradigms that shape our account of the relationship between aesthetic and political forms.”

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