CAALS CFPs for ALA 2017

This year’s American Literature Association conference is back in Boston. Below are the four 2017 CFPs for the Circle for Asian American Literary Studies (CAALS). Please keep in mind that if your proposal is accepted, you will need to become a member of CAALS in order to present, in addition to joining ALA and registering for the conference.


1. CFP: Formal and Aesthetic Values in Asian American Literature

Sponsored by the Circle for Asian American Literary Studies
Chair: Christine Kitano, Ithaca College

In the introduction to Literary Gestures: The Aesthetic in Asian American Writing, Sue-Im Lee writes, “The prevailing strength of late twentieth century Asian American literary discourse, then, lies in arguing the constructed nature of human organizations—the complex ways in which power operates in the formation of particularly racialized subjects called ‘Asian American.’” She points to how the study of Asian American (and other minority) literature initially used race as a lens of analysis, then moved beyond race to “other social categorizations and institutions such as gender, class, sexuality, nation, capital, labor, and globalism.” While she sees the importance of such cultural and materialist examinations of literature, she claims there has not been enough balance in the way we treat such texts. While cultural and materialist examinations have been primary, considering texts as literary objects has been less of a priority.

However, at this time, it seems we can afford to prioritize readings of Asian American texts as works of literature, as objects of art. Lee writes, “Asian American literary criticism at large has been slow to extend the analysis of the examination of Asian American literary works as aesthetic objects—objects that are constructed by and through deliberate choices in form, genres, traditions, and conventions.” In other words, the features that fall under the study of aesthetics—formal and genre conventions, literary devices, figurative language—are as equally “constructed” as more material concerns (race, gender, class, etc.). A study of aesthetics, then, will necessarily be critical as well.

This panel invites papers that delve into the study of form and aesthetics in Asian American literature. How do we read Asian American literature through an aesthetic and/or formal lens? What should we pay attention to? Where do we find value? Studies of individual authors are welcome, as are more global studies of trends in Asian American literary aesthetics. Creative works with an accompanying critical analysis are also welcome.

Please e-mail a 250-300 word abstract to Christine Kitano at ckitano@ithaca.edu by January 25, 2017. Be sure to mention any technological needs for your presentation. Please note that if your proposal is accepted and you agree to participate on the panel, you will need to become a member of CAALS prior to presenting, in addition to joining ALA and registering for the conference. For more information, please visit our website at http://caals.org/.


2. CFP: Transnationalism from Below in Asian/American Literature 

Sponsored by the Circle for Asian American Literary Studies (CAALS)
Chair: Mark Chiang, University of Illinois at Chicago

Questions of globalization or transnationalism have been central to discussions in Asian American literary and cultural studies for several decades yet they remain in a nascent stage. Transnationalism in literature is often identified with the external representational or referential dimensions of a text, i.e., in terms of the social or global relations, institutions, or political entities that are depicted or indexed in a text.

Beyond these apparent manifestations of transnationalism, though, where else might we detect its signs, reflections, or effects in the literary work? What, in other words, are the specifically literary dimensions of transnationalism in Asian/American literature? What does transnationalism look like from below? What are its hidden aspects? These might include questions of form, genre, audience, poetics, language, etc. And how does the recognition of these hidden dimensions of the transnational text impact our understanding of the politics of culture and communities around the globe, whether they are Asian American, or Asian diasporic, or others? How can these analyses contribute to the ongoing work of building connections between Asian American studies and Asian studies, or to a field of global Asian cultural production?

This panel invites papers that explore what transnationalism means in Asian American literature, or what it looks like, and it asks what might be learned or changed through the revelation of these obscure and occluded contours of the transnational in Asian/American literature.

Please email a proposal (max. 250 words) and a brief CV to Mark Chiang (mchiang@uic.edu) by January 25, 2017. Be sure to mention any technological needs for your presentation. Please note that if your proposal is accepted and you agree to participate on the panel, you will need to become a member of CAALS prior to presenting, in addition to joining ALA and registering for the conference. For more information, please visit our website at http://caals.org/.


3. CFP: Asian American Literature and the Politics of the Popular

Sponsored by the Circle for Asian American Literary Studies (CAALS)
Chair: Caroline Kyungah Hong, Queens College, City University of New York

At a time when US politics and popular culture appears more entwined than ever, this panel focuses on the intersections between Asian American literature and the popular. The popular, in this case, is meant broadly and encompasses a wide range of forms and genres, sites and processes that are rife with struggles and contradictions. How do we situate Asian American literature within, against, or on the margins of popular culture or the mainstream? What can we learn from studying a wide range of popular Asian American writing, e.g., in genre fiction like fantasy, science fiction, detective fiction, or romance, and in forms like comics or blogs? How do pop-cultural figures and texts function in Asian American literary texts? What are the relationships between Asian American literature and popular or populist politics?

Please email a proposal (max. 250 words) and a brief CV to Caroline Hong (caroline.hong@qc.cuny.edu) by January 25, 2017. Be sure to mention any technological needs for your presentation. Please note that if your proposal is accepted and you agree to participate in the roundtable, you will need to become a member of CAALS prior to presenting, in addition to joining ALA and registering for the conference. For more information, please visit our website at http://caals.org/.


4. CFP: Roundtable on Asian American Literary Studies in the Trump Era

Sponsored by the Circle for Asian American Literary Studies (CAALS)
Chair: Jinah Kim, California State University, Northridge

This roundtable will focus on the challenges of reading, writing, researching, and teaching Asian American literature after Donald Trump’s election to the U.S. Presidency—work that appears to be more urgent and consequential than ever. Trump’s campaign was notable for the ways it tapped the well of deep-seated U.S. anti-Chinese hysteria and for reviving the specter of WWII-era Japanese American internment for Muslims, portending both contentious transpacific geopolitics as well as the centrality of Asian American culture, history, and dissent against this new political regime.

What roles can and should Asian American literary studies play in the Trump era, in the face of increasing threats to democracy and academic freedom? How does the institutionalization of Asian American studies within the context of the neoliberal university constrain possibilities for dissent and critique? More broadly, what possibilities and strategies does Asian American literature offer with its recovered histories and alternative futures? For example, given the U.S. legacies of war and colonialism in Asia, authors such as Chang-rae Lee, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and Jessica Hagedorn describe U.S. white supremacy unfolding simultaneously with authoritarian regimes in South Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam, offering glimpses into what a U.S. authoritarian future may look like as well as ways to imagine surviving and resisting such a future.

This roundtable is envisioned as an open forum for students, scholars, teachers, and writers of Asian American literature to discuss concerns and ideas post-election. Presentations might reflect on post-election experiences, analyze specific Asian American literary texts as sites of political resistance or of complicity, and/or offer innovative scholarly and pedagogical practices. Each participant will prepare 8–10 minutes of remarks, to be followed by at least 30 minutes of open discussion. We welcome works-in-progress and creative or nontraditional academic presentations.

Please email a proposal (max. 250 words) and a brief CV to Jinah Kim (jinahnorthwestern@gmail.com) by January 25, 2017. Be sure to mention any technological needs for your presentation. Please note that if your proposal is accepted and you agree to participate in the roundtable, you will need to become a member of CAALS prior to presenting, in addition to joining ALA and registering for the conference. For more information, please visit our website at http://caals.org/.