Professor Kang works and teaches on early modern Korea and East Asia, with a focus on the history of science and technology, material culture, and global history.
Professor Kang's current book project, The Artisanal Heart of Korea: Vernacular Engineering in the Global Material Age, 1563–1878, examines how artisans and practitioners of Chosŏn Korea (1392–1910) developed a “science of making” which proved innovative across various fields of craft practice, from gunsmithing and clock-making to crystallization. His previous work on the subject includes “Crafting Knowledge: Artisan, Officer, and the Culture of Making in Chosŏn Korea, 1392–1910” (PhD diss., Harvard University, 2020), which won the 2021 Turriano Prize and the 2021 International Convention of Asia Scholars Book Prize (English—Best Dissertation in the Humanities).
His research interests are wide-ranging, from early modern science, technology, and music, to global material culture, military history, and digital humanities. His publications have appeared in edited volumes and scholarly journals, including Isis: A Journal of the History of Science Society, Journal of World History, Journal of Chinese Military History, The Military Revolution and Revolutions in Military Affairs, and Routledge Handbook of Asian Music.
His digital humanities projects include a network analysis of international criminals in seventeenth-century Nagasaki and a biographical database of artisans in early modern Korea. With Michelle Suh, he co-designed the search engine and research platform Silloker, which provides exploratory data analysis on five centuries of historical data from Chosŏn Korea.
Prior to joining the WashU faculty in 2021, he was a D. Kim Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of the History of Science and Technology, Johns Hopkins University. He received his Ph.D. in History and East Asian Languages from Harvard University, and his B.A. in History and Music from Emory University.