Beyond Silent Grief: Transgressions in Asian American Feeling || Just-in-time Session Proposal || 2022 MLA Convention

deadline for submissions: 
September 17, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Jennifer Cho / Boston University
contact email: 

This proposed "Just-in-time" session at the 2022 MLA Convention in Washington, DC (January 6-9) seeks to situate recent amplifications in anti-Asian violence and rhetoric (as well as the resistance to name them as such) within the context of Asian American literary and cultural production. As the theme of the MLA convention is Multilingualism, this session invites papers on Asian American texts, media and experience that privilege embodied affect or memory as language itself.

We might ask what are the spaces in which Asian Americans are allowed to grieve or express their discontents? How are these conditions reflective of the limits that define Asian American identity formation and citizenship? At which point are Asian and Asian American bodies deemed worthy of grief, and why do they continue to be imagined in terms of their incapacity for emotion, their easy dispensability, or propensity for contagion? These points of inquiry may also direct us to Cathy Park Hong's notion of "minor feelings" as well as David Eng and Shinhee Han's examination of racial melancholia, as intrinsic to the experience of being/becoming Asian American - we may even ask if and how creative modes of "feeling" Asian American can contest, disorient, and reimagine experiences of belonging in the US. 

Other coinciding areas of exploration include but are not limited to:

  • Productive intersections between Asian American literary study & affect theory 
  • Alignments between modes of feeling/being Asian American and model minority paradigm 
  • Discussions of collective grief, racial melancholia, trauma 
  • Linkages between domestic terrorism of Asian bodies and continued history of US empire in Asia 
  • Affective dimensions of biopower

Please send 250-300 word abstracts to by September 17, 2021. Acceptance of session will be determined in October when the Program Committee meets to review Just-in-Time panel proposals. Potential participants should be familiar with the following guidelines before submitting abstracts: 

  • The organizer and all participants must be MLA members by 22 September.

  • The organizer and all participants must register for the convention.

  • Participants may not already appear on the program more than once.