Skip to main content

We Jung Yi


234 Buttrick Hall

Assistant Professor of Asian Studies 

We Jung Yi is a specialist in modern Korean literature and culture. Her broader interests include comparative Asian studies, translation theory, film and media studies, gender criticism, and histories of violence in the Pacific Rim. By looking at Korean materials circulated across geopolitical divides and socio-technological networks, her research and teaching seek to push beyond the boundaries of national space, representational systems, and cultural practices in our globalizing world.

Yi’s current book project, Diverging Aesthetics, Mediating History: War and Memory at Work in South Korean Culture, explores various modes of remembering and mourning that have informed political and everyday life in the divided nation. Through formal and historical analysis of novels, films, and comics from the 1960s to 2010s, the manuscript complicates existing perceptions of the Cold War, and engages critical theories of crisis, trauma, and recovery.

Yi’s interdisciplinary, transmedia approach extends to her next book project on Korean melodrama, in which she relates the genre of excess to a desire for justice. In tracing the melodramatic dynamics from colonial sinp’a theater to the recent Korean Wave, this inquiry examines the nexus of social transformation, popular engagement, and media convergence.

We Jung Yi received a Ph.D. in Asian Literature, Religion, and Culture from Cornell University. Before joining Vanderbilt in 2018, she was Assistant Professor of Asian Studies and Comparative Literature at the Pennsylvania State University, and Visiting Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies at New York University.

Selected Publications 

“The Pleasure of Mourning: Korean War Blockbusters in Post–Cold War South Korea, 1998–2008.” The Journal of Cinema & Media Studies 58, no. 1 (Fall 2018).

“Melodramatic Tactics for Survival in the Neoliberal Era: Excess and Justice in The Heirs and My Love from the Star.” The Journal of Korean Studies 23, no. 1 (March 2018).

“Between Longing and Belonging: Diasporic Return in Contemporary South Korean Cinema.” In Cinematic Homecomings: Exile and Return in Transnational Cinema, ed. Rebecca Prime. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014.

Mellotŭrama wa modŏnit’i (Korean Translation of Ben Singer’s Melodrama and Modernity: Early Sensational Cinema and Its Contexts). Paju: Munhakdongne, 2009.