Thomas M. Ryan is a historian of modern Korea in the world, specializing in cultural and intellectual histories of civil war. His first book project, tentatively titled War at the Exhibition: Militarism and Mass Culture in South Korea, 1946-1973, examines total war mobilization in South Korea from the outbreak of popular insurgencies under the U.S. military occupation (1945-1948) to the withdrawal of South Korean troops from the Vietnam War. This project focuses on the role of culture—literary and popular fiction and non-fiction, reportage and war correspondence, and public exhibitions and contests—in the inscription and organization of militarized spaces in Cold War South Korea.

In accordance with the interdisciplinary approach of his book project, Thomas is also an active researcher in the field of modern Korean literature and culture and is the author of the article “Guilt-by-Association and the Wealth Inequality Parable: Paranoia, Exposure, and Inheritance in South Korean Literature” (Acta Koreana 25.1 (06.2022): 53-80). His other current research projects explore the subjects of ideology, family, gender, visual culture, historiography, and testimony in divided Korea from 1945 to the present.

Originally from Vancouver, Thomas received his PhD in History from Columbia University in 2022. His introduction to Korea came by way of a two-year public teaching position in South Chŏlla Province, and he has since enjoyed extended research stays at Sungkyunkwan University and Korea University in Seoul.