Samuel E. Perry Associate Professor of East Asian Studies

My research brings together the fields of Japanese and Korean literature, translation and cultural history. It aligns itself with a body of scholarship that has reassessed activist formations around the world, and seeks to understand the strategies by which marginalized people have contested dominant cultures. I am interested in the role culture plays in political change, and therefore embrace a capacious understanding of literature: in my research I draw on a broad array of literary sources, including non-canonical works of fiction, reportage, memoires and other archival texts found in literary journals and activist newspapers. This allows me to ask a range of questions about the means by which activists mobilize social movements, the translation of justice and responsibility into cultural forms, and the ways in which ordinary people, communities, institutions and intellectuals tell their stories.

With a PhD from the University of Chicago and a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, I have spent many years in Japan and South Korea doing research, most recently in Tokyo, where I surveyed various archives for my next book "From Across the Genkai Sea: Japanese Culture and the Korean War." I am also involved in two translation projects: a collection of stories by the Japanese writer Sata Ineko, with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and more recently an anthology of Homoerotic Writing in Korea. My teaching at Brown focuses broadly on Japanese and Korean culture, the historical relationship between Japan and Korea, as well as the translation of minority literary culture in both Japan and Korea.

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

scholarly work

Review of Light and Dark by Natsume Soseki. Translated by Jonathan Nathan. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2014. In Translation Review 91 (Spring 2015).

Recasting Red Culture in Proletarian Japan: Childhood, Korea and the Historical Avant-Garde Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2014.

“The Context and Contradictions of Kang Kyŏng-ae’s Novel In’gan munje.Korean Studies, volume 37 (2013): 99-123.

"Feminizumu wo aka de kaku: Kan Keiai no 'Ningen mondai' ni okeru bungakuteki mujun" (Written in Japanese). In Kobayashi Takiji shinpojiumu hōkokushū. Otaru: Otaru Shōka daigaku shuppankai, 2012.

Review of Empire of Texts in Motion: Chinese, Korean, and Taiwanese Transculturations of Japanese Literature by Karen Thornber. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2010. In Comparative Literature 64:3 (Summer 2012).

Translation of Sata Ineko, "White and Purple." Winner of the 2010 William F. Sibley Memorial Translation Prize in Japanese Literature. Published May, 2011, on-line with introduction at: http://ceas.uchicago.edu/japanese/Sibley_Translation_Project.shtml

Review of The Proletarian Gamble: Korean Workers in Interwar Japan by Ken C. Kawashima. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2009. In the International Journal of Asian Studies 7, no. 2 (July 2010): 242-44.

"Kyōshitsu no shakai kankei—Nihon to shokuminchi jidai no Chōsen hantō ni okeru kakumeiteki jidō no bungaku hyōshō" ["Social Relations of the Classroom—Literary Representation of Revolutionary Children in Japan and Colonial Korea"], translated into Japanese by Shimamura Teruo, in Iida Yūko ed. Shōnen shōjo no poritikkusu, Tokyo: Seikyūsha, 2009.

From Wŏnso Pond: A Korean Novel by Kang Kyŏng-ae. Translated and introduced by Samuel Perry. New York: The Feminist Press, 2009.

"Korean as Proletarian: Ethnicity and Identity in Chang Hyŏk-chu's 'Hell of the Starving.'" Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, 14:2 (Duke University Press, 2006): 279-309.

research overview

Samuel Perry's recent publications examine the revolutionary cultures of 20th century Japan and Korea. Focusing on the proletarian avant-garde, children's literature and fiction about and by Koreans, his book, Recasting Red Culture in Proletarian Japan: Childhood, Korea and the Historical Avant-garde, shows how proletarian cultural workers in the 20s and 30s reconfigured culture into a vital social practice, opening up new critical spaces in the intersections of class, childhood, gender and ethnicity. He is currently conducting research in Japan for a new cultural history called "Japan's Korean War".

research statement

Samuel Perry's research focuses on lefist cultural practices and the historical relationship between Japan and Korea in the 20th century. His first book, From Wŏnso Pond is a translation of, and critical introduction to, Kang Kyŏng-ae's 1934 newspaper novel In'gan munje, a classic of literary realism in the canons of both South Korea and the DPRK, which was issued in 2009 by The Feminist Press. His second book, Recasting Red Culture in Proletarian Japan: Childhood, Korea and the Historical Avant-Garde examines the influential proletarian cultural movement that flourished in 1920s and 1930s Japan, and shows how the movement opened up new critical spaces in the intersections of class, popular culture, childhood, gender, and ethnicity. His third manuscript, now under review, is an anthology of Japanese fiction by a celebrated woman writer, called Five Faces of Feminism: Crimson and Other Stories by Sata Ineko.

Currently Professor Perry is conducting archival research in Japan for a new cultural history called "From Across the Genkai Sea: Japanese Literary Culture and the Korean War," a book which will examine a body of writing and cultural activism from the 1950s and beyond in an effort to understand Japan's experience as host and headquarters for US forces during the tragic conflict that broke out in its former colony. The project aims to shed light on how different groups experienced the Korean War affectively in Japan: members of the ideologically split Communist Party, the divided ethnic Korean community in Japan, everyday citizens employed in and nearby US bases on the Japanese islands, and the Japanese colonialists repatriated from the Korean colony after WWII. By reading media reports, letters to the editor, fiction, propaganda and poetry written by and about members of these different communities—whose experiences lay in many ways on the margins of mainstream Japan—Professor Perry's research not only offers a new transnational perspective on America's "forgotten" Korean War, but also an examination of how this perspective set in place narratives of class and ethnicity in Japan that would continue to be influential for decades to come.

funded research

2013-14 Japan Foundation Research Fellowship, Tokyo.

2013 National Endowment for the Arts, Translation Fellowship.

2011 Visiting Scholar, Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

2010-11 Visiting Scholar, University of California, Berkeley, Center for Japanese Studies.

2007-08 Postdoctoral Fellowship, Harvard University (jointly offered by The Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies & The Korea Institute)

2007 Korean Literature Translation Institute Translation Award

2006 Center for East Asian Studies Dissertation Write-up Grant, University of Chicago.

2003-05 Fulbright Dissertation Research Grant, University of Hokkaido, Sapporo, Japan.

2003-04 International Communications Foundation Graduate Translation Fellowship.

2002-03 Korea Foundation Research Fellowship, Seoul, South Korea.

2001-02 Korea Foundation Language Training Fellowship, Seoul, South Korea.

1997-2001 University Unendowed Fellowship, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations.