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My research and teaching are focused on 20th- and 21st-century American literature with an emphasis on Asian American, Latinx, and other ethnic minority literatures. My work is driven by two convictions. First, that race must be understood relationally and through comparative methods, particularly as the U.S. approaches a multi-racial, minority-majority future. Second, that literature and politics are intertwined in fascinating ways even as we strive to grasp the specificity of each. I’m interested in how minority literatures navigate this relation, which gives literature’s powers of imagining and aesthetic shaping distinct social stakes. These convictions inform my first book, Giving Form to an Asian and Latinx America, which follows a form of transfictional storytelling across the writings of Asian American and Latinx communities to reveal their historical links and shared struggles. Read together, Asian American and Latinx literatures show that we cannot understand the shape these communities take today unless we see how they have formed in mutual relation. Their forms make aesthetically perceptible the Asian and Latinx America that the U.S is becoming. Literary aesthetics, I contend, offers modes of political imagination for envisioning cross-racial solidarities that could reshape the U.S. and its relations to the world.
I’m excited to be working on a second book project, tentatively titled Racial Entanglements: Racialization Across Groups, Species, Objects, and Environments. This book develops an interdisciplinary vocabulary of racial entanglement to expand race theory so that it grasps the full range of agencies implicated in racialization. Spanning the colonization of the Americas to the environmental crises of today, the project weaves the entanglement aesthetics of minority cultural works with historical case studies and theoretical frameworks from critical race studies, multi-species studies, the new imperial history, and quantum physics. A racial entanglement approach challenges the divisions that have isolated ethnic studies fields from each other. It denies distinctions between racism and environmental racism. And it overturns race relations common sense, which presumes distinct racial groups. Racial groups do not precede racial relations. They are activated and emerge within racial entanglements. I am also working on several projects at the intersections of digital humanities and race studies. One project, The Asian American Literary Corpus, is the first to survey systematically the hundreds of texts in the Asian American literary corpus and the hundreds of scholarly publications that have defined it. A second project is a collaboration that examines social movements, narrative, and internet publics. It focuses on how Twitter users narrated the “racial awakening” of summer 2020.
I regularly teach courses on Asian American, Latinx, and multi-ethnic American literatures and cultures, post-1945 American literature, race theory and relational race studies, migration, U.S. empire, social movements, and narrative forms. I see my courses as collaborations in which students and I work together to unpack questions of culture, power, and social differences, to understand the entanglements of literature and politics, and to advance our relational understanding of race in all of its social and cultural ramifications. I believe that to engage such difficult questions the members of a class must build a culture of support and solidarity that helps each of us take intellectual risks. Recognizing our received answers about race and social differences as inadequate, we extend to each other the opportunity to make mistakes so that we can transgress established premises and find fresh possibilities. At its best, this kind of classroom transforms me as much as it does my students, a pleasure for which I’m always grateful.
- BA, English, Harvard University
- PhD, English, Stanford University
- Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century American Literature and Culture
- Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture
- Literature and Identity
- Textual Studies and Digital Humanities
- Literary Theory
- Race and Ethnicity Studies
- Asian American Atudies
- Latinx Studies
- Comparative Ethnic Studies
- Aesthetics and Politics
- Narrative Theory
- Transnational, Migration, and Diaspora Studies
- Critical Refugee Studies
- Cold War Studies
- Social Movements
- Digital Humanities
- Giving Form to an Asian and Latinx America (Stanford University Press, 2020).
Articles/ Book Chapters:
- “The Asian American Literature We’ve Constructed,” with Kate Hao, Post45/Journal of Cultural Analytics no. 4 (April 2021): 146-179.
- “Narrating the Transnational: Refugee Routes, Communities of Shared Fate, and Transnarrative Form.” MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the U.S. 43, no. 2 (Summer 2018): 106-128.
- “Bildungsroman Hermeneutics in the Post-Civil Rights Era.” American Literature 90, no. 1 (March 2018): 141-170.
- “From Keywords to Cohorts: Tracing Language Change in the Novel, 1785-1900.” With Ryan Heuser. In Canon/Archive: Studies in Quantitative Formalism from the Stanford Literary Lab, edited by Franco Moretti, 147-93. New York: n+1, 2017.
- “Learning to Read Data: Bringing out the Humanistic in the Digital Humanities.” With Ryan Heuser. Victorian Studies 54, no. 1 (Autumn 2011): 79-86.