The Cold War Comic: Power and Laughter in Taiwan and South Korea, 1948-1979


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


East Asian Languages and Cultures


This project investigates how comic works in Taiwan and South Korea generated counterpublics during the Cold War. Developmentalism and anti-Communist ideology may have smothered heterogeneous discourse in both US-allied countries, but comic works eluded censorship by eschewing sobriety. Cultural material, including cartoons, radio, film, and literature indirectly indexed the anxieties and discontent of the masses. By consuming these works and joining in collective laughter, the public could engage in fleeting thought transgression. The project asks what it means to address social tension through a comic aesthetic, and why a pronounced comic aesthetic was necessary during the Cold War in the Asian Pacific region. It argues that the comic aesthetic encapsulated a certain worldview, tells a new story of becoming, and demonstrates the fluidity of subjectivities within the matrices of social structure, ideology, and the imagination of self and nation in the world.