Associate Professor Ruth Barraclough

BA (Hons) (UQ) PhD (ANU)
Associate Professor, School of Culture, History & Language
College of Asia & 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 go to Korea every winter and am on the editorial board of the journal ??? ?? published by the Korean Association of Women's History and am an international corresponding member of ???????? the Korean Association for Feminist Literature.

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 biographical history Red Glamour: Korea's Early Communist Women.

Researcher's projects

My next book Island Ablaze, is forthcoming from Cornell University Press in 2021. Co-edited with Jin-kyung Lee, Jae-Yong Kim and Sang-kyung Lee, Island Ablaze is an anthology of short stories that delve into Korea's relationship with the United States. For the anthology I have translated Choi Jeong-hui's classic 1942 short story Dawn about women graduates of an American missionary school in Seoul. 

I am co-authoring a biographical history Red Glamour: Korea's Early Communist Women with Professor Jiseung Roh from Incheon National University. Research for this book has encompassed the State Archive for Social and Political History in Moscow, the National Library of Australia, the Library of Congress in Washington, the FSB Archives in Kuznetsky Most and many other collections.

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

I am 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)

Chair of the Korea Institute Board, ANU (Member from 2017, Chair from 2020)


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:  21 September 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers