Serk bae Suh

picture of Serk bae  Suh

Associate Professor, East Asian Studies
School of Humanities


Fax: (949) 824-3248

University of California, Irvine
472 Humanities Instructional Bldg.
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Modern Korean Literature
Research Abstract
I am currently writing my second book tentatively entitled Against the Tyranny of Utility: Sacrifice and Literature in 1970s and 80s South Korea. It deals with the problem of sacrifice by examining the critical occasions of literary imagination that envisioned an autonomous space for literature under the pressure of the developmental state in 1970s and 80s South Korea. South Korean society underwent rapid industrialization and urbanization during the period. The state propaganda machine constantly invoked the rhetoric of individual sacrifice for the common good to mobilize the people for state-led economic development and an ideological campaign against North Korea. Strictly speaking, the sacrifice upheld by the developmental state was not a genuinely sacrificial act of one’s giving up the most precious possession for the other but a wager motivated by utilitarian calculation for the maximization of utility. By looking at a diverse range of texts that raised the issues of utility, labor, violence, and democracy with regard to the problem of sacrifice, this study highlights the instances of South Korean literary discourse that imagined literature as the sacrificial site of struggle for freedom from the iron rule of utility.
Treacherous Translation: Culture, Nationalism, and Colonialism in Korea and Japan from the 1910s to the 1960s (Berkeley: Global, Area, and International Archive/University of California Press, 2013)
"A False Martyr's Wager: Yi Kwangsu and Colonial Collaboration." In Charles R. Kim, Jungwon Kim, Hwasook Nam, and Serk-Bae Suh (Eds.), Beyond Death: The Politics of Suicide and Martyrdom in Korea. (University of Washington Press, 2019)
““Oh Jesus, Now Here with Us”: Literary Christology in 1970s and 1980s South Korea.” In Youngju Ryu ed. Cultures of Yusin (University of Michigan Press, 2018)
"Colonialism, Translation, Literature: Takahama Kyoshi’s Passage to Korea." In H. Shirane, D. Lurie, T. Suzuki (Eds.), Cambridge History of Japanese Literature. (Cambridge University Press, 2016)
“The Location of “Korean” Culture: Ch’oe Chaes? and Korean Literature in a Time of Transition,” Journal of Asian Studies, 70.1 (Spring 2011): 53-75.
“Treacherous Translation: the 1938 Japanese-Language Theatrical Version of the Korean Tale Ch’unhyangj?n,” positions: east asia cultures critique, 18. 1 (Spring 2010): 171-197.
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