Dissertation Workshop: Soyi Kim  

November 12, 2021 (Virtual) 

Dissertation Title

"Viral and Visceral: Feminist Media and Art in Neocolonial South Korea"

Dissertation Abstract

My dissertation, Viral and Visceral: Feminist Media and Art in Neocolonial South Korea, resituates contemporary South Korean and Korean diasporic feminist art and media within the histories of U.S. neocolonial and biomedical control and South Korea’s patriarchal nationalism. It analyzes, on the one hand, neocolonial violence rooted in the public health measures concerning Korean subaltern bodies, enforced bilaterally by the U.S. and Korean governments, and, on the other hand, contemporary feminist online activism and art that recognize and question this systemic violence. The feminists explore the visceral transformation of images of Korean women’s bodies and instigate public debates over gendered notions of contagious diseases and public health crises at large. They often do so coextensively with anti-colonial, anti-nationalist, and subaltern political movements. The tropes of virality and viscerality provide useful lenses for both material and metaphorical analyses of the transnational aesthetics of contemporary Korean feminism and its entanglement with neocolonial body politics.

Soyi Kim Bio

Soyi Kim is a PhD candidate in the Comparative Studies in Discourse and Society program at the University of Minnesota. As a Fulbright scholar, she received her Master’s degree in History and Theory of Contemporary Art at San Francisco Art Institute in 2014. Trained in cultural studies and art history, she is an interdisciplinary scholar of feminism, art, media, and public health discourse in neocolonial South Korea and the Korean diaspora.


Prof. Jin-Kyung Lee  
Prof. Jin-Kyung Park

Dissertation Workshop: Hayana Kim (Northwestern University)

December 2, 2022 (virtual)

Dissertation title

“Embodying Democracies: The Gwangju Uprising and the Politics of Mourning in South Korea”

Dissertation Abstract

This dissertation, “Embodying Democracies: The Gwangju Uprising and the Politics of Mourning in South Korea,” examines grassroots arts and resistance surrounding the Gwangju Uprising and the activism for its recognition in the post-uprising years. Although robust literature exists on democracy in South Korea, scholars thus far have often focused on the voices of men and intellectuals, and rarely have they examined South Korean democracy from the perspective of performance that interrogates the role of the body and affect in transforming the cultures and politics in South Korea. My dissertation makes an affective and feminist intervention in the historiography. Based on archival research and fieldwork, it foregrounds women artists and activists in Gwangju, analyzing their performances for democracy through an interdisciplinary perspective that brings together theories on gender, performativity, affect, mourning, and embodiment. Here I use the term “performance” to discuss both explicitly artistic works such as theatre productions and a wider set of presentational forms of making political claims in the public sphere such as street protests, indigenous memorial rites in a graveyard, and live TV testimonies at public hearings. These performances led by women have left a profound impact on advancing democracy in South Korea. My central argument is that performance facilitates democracy by creating an affectively voluminous cultural space, where deaths disavowed by the state and concealed from the public eye arise into communal memories.


Dr. Namhee Lee
Dr. Seungsook Moon