CAALS panels for American Literature Association conference, May 27-30, 2010, San Francisco

full name / name of organization: 
Circle for Asian American Literary Studies (ALA sponsoring organization)
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Hi all,

Happy new year! Please consider submitting a proposal for one of the four panels sponsored by the Circle for Asian American Literary Studies for the American Literature Association conference in San Francisco in May 2010.


"Asian American Literature: Ambivalent Precursors"
Chair: Merton Lee, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne

The Circle for Asian American Literary Studies invites papers for a panel on critical reevaluations of Asian American literature before 1970. According to Kandice Chuh, Asian American studies initially relied on claiming America as a nation to contest racist essentialism. But more recently, shifts in Asian American studies towards transnational analyses demand more complex responses to early Asian American texts. For example, literature previously dismissed as Orientalist might be recuperated as complex responses to both subnational and transnational affiliations. Or canonical texts of Asian American literature might be re-situated in the context of a more open genealogy of precursors. Additionally, reperiodization, different conceptions of time and the question of American neo-imperialism might all justify new approaches to how Asian American texts should be understood as literary history. Topics might include understudied early 20th century American writers of Asian descent, writers of various ethnicities that are important to Asian American studies, or possibly corrective readings of well-known figures. Please submit CVs and 250-350 word abstracts to


"New Perspectives on Theresa Hak Kyung Cha"
Chair: Timothy Yu, University of Wisconsin

Since her death in 1982, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's work has moved from avant-garde obscurity to canonical status within Asian American literature. Her book Dictée is now a classroom staple and has inspired a growing body of critical literature. But critics' focus on Dictée, and on that book's more narrative elements, has left unexplored the full complexity of Cha's work across genres and media, from autobiography and poetry to performance art, film, and artist's books. This panel will seek to build on more recent work that places Dictée in the context of Cha's wider body of art. Papers are welcomed that examine the less-frequently-discussed later sections of Dictée, which incorporate more visual and abstract materials and complicate the narratives of exile and migration that dominate the book's earlier sections. Papers that focus on Cha's work beyond Dictée, such as her visual and video art or her critical writings, are also encouraged. Cha's archive of work, held by the Berkeley Art Museum and accessible through the Online Archive of California, provides a rich trove of materials that we hope papers for this panel will draw on, and we also hope that the conference's location in San Francisco will allow us to view a sampling of Cha's work in conjunction with the panel. Send 1-page abstract and CV by email to Timothy Yu ( by January 1, 2010. (Contact Tim ASAP if you are still interested in this panel, post-deadline.)


"Dialogues of Displacement: Intersections Between the Literary Texts of African and Asian Diaspora(s)"
Chair: Trevor Lee, City University of New York (CUNY)

"It is from those who have suffered the sentence of history - subjugation, domination, diaspora, displacement - that we learn our most enduring lessons for living and thinking." – Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture

Salman Rushdie identifies the diasporic subject as "fantasist" who "build[s] imaginary countries and tr[ies] to impose them on the ones that exist." Focusing on the role of literature as a medium by which migrants both understand themselves and relate to society, The Circle for Asian American Literary Studies (CAALS) invites papers that explore the literary connections between African and Asian diasporic communities. What might we learn by looking at the texts of African and Asian migrants comparatively? We welcome papers that particularly compare and/or contrast ways in which the experiences of both African and Asian diasporic peoples open new textual possibilities. Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

* Transnational modes of literary production and circulation
* Fictive depictions of the African and Asian homelands
* New technologies as a literary medium of expression and communication for migrants
* Diasporic science fictions, literary utopias/dystopias, or alternative worlds
* John Ogbu's distinction between "immigrant minorities" and "involuntary minorities"
* Cosmopolitanism in Asian and African diasporic literature
* Relations between immigrants and host communities
* Intersecting racial political movements of Asian and African migrants and/or settlers
* Literary criticism, canonization, and global literature
* The various re/incarnations of hip-hop in diasporic communities
* Literary depictions of conflicts among migrant peoples
* Intersecting strands of magical realism in diasporic literature

Please send a 1-page abstract by January 10th to Trevor Lee via email: Please mention any technological needs for your presentation on your abstract. Also, please note that if your abstract is selected and you agree to present on this panel, you will need to become a member of CAALS before presenting. For more information, please visit our website at


CFP: Asian Americanist Critique Outside Asian American Literature Courses
American Literature Association Conference, San Francisco, May 27-30, 2010
Circle for Asian American Literary Studies--Pedagogy Roundtable
Proposal deadline: January 15, 2010

As specialists in Asian American literature working in contemporary configurations of English studies, we often teach courses that are not organized around nor focused solely on Asian American literature as a body of work. At the same time, scholars and teachers of other categories of literature often turn to Asian American texts in their courses. In both of these instances, we place Asian American texts in conversation with other texts, but perhaps more importantly, we suggest the importance of Asian Americanist critique for courses and texts beyond the standard body of works we consider in the field. This roundtable panel focuses on pedagogical practices we use for such situations, especially as they reveal our investments in Asian Americanist critique as a kind of knowing that queries the contours of literary studies and the classroom as a site of learning.

To make our discussion more concrete, this call for ten-minute presentations asks for reflections on paper assignments, discussion activities, creative projects, or other concrete examples of what you do in the classroom to teach particular Asian American texts in these courses. Which texts have worked best for you? What activities or teaching strategies have helped to encourage students to read Asian American texts in critical ways without the benefit of a full quarter or semester to explore Asian Americanist issues, backgrounds, and contexts? Alternately, how has teaching particular Asian American texts transformed readings and discussions of non-Asian American texts in those courses?

Please submit a brief description (250-words) of an assignment that you want to share on the panel in the body of an email message to Please mention any technological needs for your presentation on your abstract. Also, please note that if your abstract is selected and you agree to present on this panel, you will need to become a member of CAALS before presenting. For more information, please visit our website at