Abstract

This article attempts to rethink the question of modernism in colonial Korea by proposing a move away from formalist definitions of modernism and toward an understanding of modernism as an affirmation of modernity as a culture of time. This approach attempts to free Korean literary texts from the burden of being read as formal repetitions of European literary forms and instead allows the Korean texts to testify to the workings of their own temporalization. After laying out the theoretical and material grounds for late colonial modernism, the article provides a reading of two works that suggest decadence as an important mode through which the contradictions of the late colonial era could be thought and represented. As an aesthetic conveying a sense of an ending, decadence allowed for a confrontation with the problem of historical transformation just as the colonial government announced wartime mobilization policies that attempted to write a new future for Korea and Koreans.

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