For much of the twentieth century, literature was at the very forefront of progressive intellectual discourses in Korea, and provided a heated battleground for social and political contestations. In this class, we will read major works of modern Korean fiction in English translation and explore the place of the writer in Korean society. Central to this exploration is the theme of modernity; rather than take modernity as given, we will ask what other modalities of human life and systems of understanding it has replaced. Topics of discussion will include tradition and nativism; migration and nostalgia; imperialist, nationalist and communist ideologies; urban space and culture; gender politics; changing conceptions of private life and aesthetics of commitment. To enrich our understanding of fictional texts, we will chart major literary debates in modern Korea and situate them within shifting political climates.