CFPs for CAALS@ALA2020 (May 21–24, 2020; San Diego, CA)

The next American Literature Association (ALA) annual conference will be held May 21–24, 2020, in San Diego, CA. Below are calls for papers for the five panels sponsored by CAALS, which also holds its annual business meeting at ALA, along with mentoring events and social gatherings. Please note that if your proposal is accepted and you plan to participate, you’ll need to become a member of CAALS prior to presenting, in addition to registering for the conference.


Panel 1             Pedagogy in the Asian American Literature Classroom: Expanding Canon and Curriculum
Chair                Christine Kitano, Ithaca College

This is a broad call for papers, intended to bring together a wide array of experiences teaching Asian American literature in the college classroom. Within the confines of a semester-long course, how do we keep up with the rapid expansion of the increasingly diverse field of Asian American literature? How do we imagine our courses positioned within a general education curriculum? An English major? A graduate specialization? What do we want students to learn in Asian American literature, and why, and how? Recommended topics include but are not limited to syllabi construction, classroom exercises, discussion topics, strategies for teaching “difficult” texts, genre-specific issues, the integration of various critical perspectives, mentorship methods, and approaches to issues of diversity and inclusion. Many of us teach at institutions where we are the sole instructor for a course in Asian American literature, so this roundtable aims to provide community and support and will ideally begin a discussion we can continue online, in the form of a database of teaching materials (syllabi, assignments, articles, etc.). All perspectives and backgrounds welcome.

Please email a proposal (max. 250 words) and a brief CV to Christine Kitano (ckitano@ithaca.edu) by Friday, January 10, 2020. Please be sure to mention any technological needs for your presentation.


Panel 2             Literature at the Crossroads of Empire and Critical Refugee Studies
Chairs              Mai-Linh Hong, Bucknell University, and Aline Lo, Allegheny College

With the growing nationwide interest in refugee narratives, particularly Southeast Asian American refugee literature, there is a pressing need to think about and through the relationship between American literary studies and Critical Refugee Studies. Even as the likes of Viet Thanh Nguyen, Ocean Vuong, and Mai Der Vang earn prestigious awards like the Pulitzer, a MacArthur Genius Grant, and the Walt Whitman Award, there exists another national narrative that includes the deportation of Cambodian Americans and the decrease of refugee resettlement allotments into the U.S. Indeed, the military empire can almost be credited for helping to produce some of the U.S.’s most celebrated contemporary writers of American literature. What, then, does it mean to celebrate refugee writers while also creating and denying refugee bodies? Can the public consumption and academic intellectualization of refugee texts meaningfully engage with the military empire? Can Critical Refugee Studies provide an avenue for literary analysis that holds the U.S. accountable for its imperial longings? This panel welcomes papers that broadly touch on literature and its intersections with military empire and Critical Refugee Studies.

Please email a proposal (max. 250 words) and a brief CV to Mai-Linh Hong (mlkh001@bucknell.edu) and Aline Lo (alo@allegheny.edu) by Friday, January 10, 2020. Please be sure to mention any technological needs for your presentation.


Panel 3             Literatures of Displacement
Chairs              Timothy K. August, Stony Brook University, and Nina Ha, Virginia Tech

This session will examine the cultural, political, and social lives of those who are or feel displaced. Specifically we will attempt to discern if there is a literary style, or group of styles, consistent with those who have been displaced by war, natural disasters, or other untenable circumstances that leave millions of people desperate to find safe places within or outside their nation-state. Given all of the attention paid to these crises, we will consider how stories of refugees or those seeking refuge circulate, in order to better understand how concepts like empathy, home, and asylum drive formal innovation. Further we will explore how this “global phenomenon” impacts the local social, economic, and literary spaces in countries like the U.S. and others.

This panel invites papers on all literary aspects of the displaced. This can include papers that investigate the aesthetic regimes that describe and circumscribe people leaving their homes or countries of origin. Potential submissions could also address the coalition-building possibilities that arise through telling stories of displacement. We welcome comparative approaches, pedagogical approaches, and papers that consider how novels, poetry, short stories, and/or performance pieces engage contemporary displacement.

Please email a proposal (max. 250 words) and a brief CV to Timothy K. August (timothy.august@stonybrook.edu) and Nina Ha (nha@vt.edu) by Friday, January 10, 2020. Please be sure to mention any technological needs for your presentation.


Panel 4             The Borderlands of Asian American and Latinx Literatures
Chair                Alex Howerton, University of South Carolina

In 2015, the poets Javier Zamora, Christopher Soto, and Marcelo Hernandez Castillo launched the Undocupoets Campaign via the Apogee Journal website, protesting the discriminatory policies of ten first-book publishing contests. Since then, the Undocupoets movement has thus far provided support to authors who identify as Filipino, Taiwanese, Chinese, Mexican, El Salvadorian, and Brazilian, reiterating the cultural and formal slippage between Asian American and Latinx literary output. This panel seeks to explore the affiliations and resonances between and among Asian American and Latinx authors, such as the above movement, through questions such as the following: To what extent does a fraught relationship with citizenship, or the border, structure the literature of these two populations, broadly conceived? How have global exigencies such as the Cold War, or the current administration’s border crisis, provided rallying points for disparate pathways of activism and expression among authors? How might cross-racial solidarity in verse or prose be read against the capitalist imposition of racialized labor? In which spaces and temporalities might we see these cross-racial affinities operate most clearly?

Please email a proposal (max. 250 words) and a brief CV to Alex Howerton (howertoa@email.sc.edu) by Friday, January 10, 2020. Please be sure to mention any technological needs for your presentation.


Panel 5             OPEN CALL for Asian American Literary Studies
Chair                Caroline Kyungah Hong, Queens College, CUNY

We invite proposals on any aspect of Asian American literature and culture. Our aim is to provide a forum for new and innovative work in Asian American literary studies.

Please email a proposal (max. 250 words) and a brief CV to Caroline Hong (caroline.hong@qc.cuny.edu) by Friday, January 10, 2020. Please be sure to mention any technological needs for your presentation.