Associate Professor Ruth Barraclough

BA (Hons) (UQ) PhD (ANU)
Associate Professor, School of Culture, History & Language
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

Areas of expertise

  • Culture, Gender, Sexuality 200205
  • Asian History 210302
  • Historical Studies 2103
  • Literary Studies 2005
  • Biography 210304
  • Korean Literature 200521

Research interests

I have broad interests in labour history, gender studies, literary translation and biography. My book Factory Girl Literature: Sexuality, Violence and Representation in Industrializing Korea  was published by University of California Press in 2012. The book is about the factory girls who generated Korea’s industrial revolution while at the same time cherished ambitions to be writers, novelists and poets. Based upon a neglected archive of working women’s literature from the 1920s to the 1990s, it restores classics of Korea’s working-class culture and shows the complex ways in which the factory girl has embodied the sexual and class violence of industrial life. In July 2017 Factory Girl Literature translated by Professors Kim Won and Jiseung Roh was published in Korea by Humanitas Press. It spent 20 weeks on the history bestseller list and received numerous recommendations: nominated for the President's summer reading list by South Korea's leading book and newspaper editors, nominated for multiple feminist reading lists, nominated for CEO's alternative summer reading list, named one of the top ten books of 2017 by Kyunghyang Shinmun.

Earlier collective book projects include Gender and Labour in Korea and Japan: Sexing Class, co-edited with Elyssa Faison, Routledge 2009 and Red Love Across the Pacific, co-edited with Paula Rabinowitz and Heather Bowen-Struyk, Palgrave 2015.


In 1989 I first visited South Korea on an exchange program for university students organised by the Korean Student Christian Federation and the Australian Student Christian Movement. I returned to Korea as an international student in January 1992 and studied Korean language at Yonsei University and Ewha Womans University.

In 1997 I returned to South Korea as a PhD student, observed first hand the General Strike in winter of that year and in 1998 studied at Seoul National University and at the Labor Academy at Sungkonghoe University.

I received my PhD in East Asian Studies from the ANU in 2004 with a thesis entitled The Labour and Literature of Korean Factory Girls. In 2004-5 I was postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Japanese and Korean Studies at the University of Sydney and in 2006-7 I was Visiting Assistant Professor in the History Department at the University of Minnesota. I came to the ANU in June 2007.

I was a visiting scholar at the Centre for Korean Studies, Columbia University 2013-14 and 2017.

In 2018 I was a National Library of Australia Fellow working on my new book Red Glamour: Korea's Early Communist Women.

Researcher's projects

I am co-authoring a book Red Glamour: Korea's Early Communist Women with Professor Jiseung Roh from Incheon National University. Red Glamour takes its title from five key communists and the glamour they embodied as transnational radical feminists. Products of both the sex-positive socialism of the early 1920s and a relatively self-governing leftist movement scattered throughout North East Asia, they became political celebrities who turned exile into cruise travel and prison experience into sensational novels. More broadly the book looks at Cold War gender politics, the failure of state feminism in North Korea and the suppressed history of communism's "sexually emancipated women".

A public lecture about the project Red Glamour from the National Library of Australia public seminar series can be found here

I am translating Choi Jeong-hui's classic 1942 short story Dawn (1942) for J. Lee, J. Kim, S. Lee and R. Barraclough (eds.) Korean Stories from the American Empire (under contract, Cornell University Press); and preparing a manuscript of translated stories, interviews and newspaper ephemera by and about kisaeng (Korean courtesans) with Professor Jiseung Roh for the Modern Languages Association bilingual Texts and Translation Series.

Administrative Roles

Ruth is the Convenor of the Northeast Asian Studies Program.

Board Memberships

Member of the Australia-Korea Foundation Board, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (from 2018)

Member of the Korea Institute Board, ANU (from 2017)


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  24 January 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers