Guest blogger Christine Kitano writes of attending CAALS@ALA 2019 last month. Dr. Kitano is an assistant professor of English at Ithaca College. She has published two collections of poetry, Sky Country (2017) and Birds of Paradise (2011), and serves on the CAALS Advisory Board.
My first experience with CAALS was in 2016, when I attended my first American Literature Association conference in San Francisco. I had joined the CAALS Facebook group on a whim several months earlier, and submitted a proposal when I saw the conference CFP’s. It wasn’t until I was in the cab on the way to the conference hotel that I realized I knew nothing about CAALS or the other presenters. My nervousness vanished once I met some of the CAALS members and attended the business meeting. I have been involved with CAALS ever since, and am always struck by the group’s genuine sense of inclusivity.
This year’s conference in Boston was no exception. Furthermore, the current CAALS presidents, Caroline Hong and Mai-Linh Hong, have outdone themselves in fostering an organization that supports rigorous scholarship and a diversity of approaches and perspectives. This year, I was happy to re-connect with old colleagues as well as meet new scholars in the field. I am particularly excited to see all the new scholarship being done on Asian American poetry.
For many of us in CAALS, we are the only one in our field at our respective institutions. In addition to serving as a network, CAALS provides the opportunity to meet others who intimately understand the challenges of the work we do. I left this year’s conference with a renewed sense of camaraderie; though I return to my institution where I am the only person who teaches Asian American literature, I know that I am not alone.
I look forward to next year’s conference and continuing my involvement in this necessary organization.