CFP: CAALS@AAAS 2020, April 9-11, 2020, Washington, DC

Graphic Text:

Call for Papers: CAALS@AAAS 2020
Circle for Asian American Literary Studies
April 9–11, 2020, Washington, D.C.

Troubling Fictions: Reassessing the Politics of Asian American Literature

a 2-part panel sponsored by CAALS

As the infamous Kingston-Chin debates between cultural nationalism and feminism as well as the AAAS book award controversy around Blu’s Hanging make starkly evident, literature can prove troublesome for our fantasies about Asian America as a political and intellectual coalition. Indeed, in theorizing such fissures, the field of Asian American literary studies indexes both the possibilities and the limitations of a capacious “Asian America” even as it remains “a rubric we cannot not use,” as Susan Koshy famously remarked. Scholars have articulated the generative troublemaking power of Asian American literatures to interrogate state technologies such as the contradictions of citizenship, the racialized necropolitics of U.S. imperialism and neocolonialism, and the biopolitical manufacture of model minoritization. Yet, what if we consider the panethnic signifier of “Asian American” itself as a “troubling fiction”? That is, as not just that which troubles but is also incessantly troubled. How might texts trouble common expectations or demands about the politics, characteristics, thematic and formal qualities of “Asian American literature”? Conversely, to what extent does troubling “Asian American literature” challenge the political work that literary studies asks the aesthetic object to perform? To contemplate these questions, we invite papers that analyze newer works, shine light on previously neglected texts, or offer rereadings of canonical works to reassess the politics and uses of Asian American literature in response to the shifting contexts and political urgencies of our times. 

We envision two, linked panels to be held at the Association for Asian American Studies annual conference. Please submit a 250-word abstract and a two-page CV to Chris Eng (ceng02 [at] and Douglas Ishii (douglas_ishii [at] by September 18, 2019. CAALS is an international organization of scholars, teachers, writers, and students of Asian American literature. We welcome scholars at all career stages.

Guest Post by Douglas S. Ishii: CAALS@ALA 2019

Guest blogger Douglas S. Ishii writes about his first time at CAALS@ALA 2019. Dr. Ishii is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Writing, Literature, & Publishing at Emerson College. His scholarship has been published in Camera Obscura, American Quarterly, and the Journal of Asian American Studies, as well as the edited volumes Techno-Orientalism: Imagining Asia in Speculative Fiction, History, and Media (2015) and Global Asian American Popular Cultures (2016). He also serves on the CAALS Advisory Board.

I am not used to the ways of literary studies. While our preeminent conference, the MLA, gathers some amazing conversations, my ability to appreciate them is hampered by everyone’s frantic slate of interviews (or lack thereof). However, now that my tenure line is 100% literature, I had to find a conference that would bolster that part of my professional identity.

Enter the Circle for Asian American Literary Studies.

Organized by the indefatigable Mai-Linh K. Hong, whose writing inspired an essay of my own, and Caroline Kyungah Hong, a long-time co-conspirator of mine, CAALS has become one of the most organized internal units of the American Literature Association. With five panels across the conference, we had two days of conversations about the politics of writing and reading “Asian American” – an intellectual rejuvenation from my academic year of being “just diversity.”

My panel – The Dis-contents of Asian American Literary Form I, organized by Chris A. Eng and co-starring Christine Mok and Takeo Rivera – was an opportunity to workshop part of my chapter-in-progress. The room brought together a cohort of colleagues familiar with both the core questions of Asian American Studies and the literary texts up for discussion – a rare chance for real interlocutors. Over a month later, I am still working through Christine’s incredible reading of performance in Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book, and how to fit Timothy Yu’s buttressing of Janice Mirikitani into my Asian Am lit survey.

CAALS in essence curates a conference within the conference. The amazing team of Hong and Hong also hosted scheduled and impromptu social events, which made time to connect with colleagues in a different setting. After years of missed connections at AAAS, I finally got to sit down with Mai-Linh to talk about that SLAC life, and had a much-needed catch-up with Caroline. And so many new friends!

In sum, join us in San Diego in 2020! The Hongs will take care of you.

Guest Post by Christine Kitano: CAALS@ALA 2019

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.

2019 CAALS Essay Prize: Call for Submissions/Nominations

The CAALS Essay Prize, established in 2013, is an annual award for the best paper on Asian American literature written by a graduate (or undergraduate) student and presented at any ALA or CAALS-sponsored panel.

If you are a student who presented on a 2019 CAALS panel at AAAS or on any 2019 ALA panel and would like to submit your paper for consideration, please email it to caroline.hong[at] If you would like to nominate a student’s paper, please email the student’s name and email address to caroline.hong[at] The deadline for submissions and nominations is August 1, 2019. Papers will be reviewed by a committee of CAALS Advisory Board members.

CAALS@ALA 2019 Program Now Available: May 24-25, Boston

Please join us for this year’s annual meeting, CAALS@ALA 2019, to take place Friday & Saturday, May 24 & 25, 2019 at the Westin Copley Place in Boston. As a sponsoring society of the American Literature Association, CAALS meets at the ALA Annual Conference.

Preliminary Program

Friday 5/24

8:10–9:30 / Session 7-F / Essex NC
(In)Visible: Asymmetries in Asian American Texts

Co-Chairs and Respondents: Na-Rae Kim, University of Connecticut–Storrs and Laura Wright, Berry College

1. “Seen and Heard, but Silenced: Nationalism and Music in Japanese Internment Camps,” Meghan Brown, University of Connecticut–Storrs

2. “Webcomics and the Futures of Asian American Literature,” Caroline Kyungah Hong, Queens College, City University of New York

3. “[In]Visible Language in Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker,” Sara Lee, Binghamton University, State University of New York

11:10–12:30 / Session 9-F / Essex NW
The State of Asian America: Literary Representations of Asian American Space

Chair: Mai-Linh K. Hong, Bucknell University

1. “Refugee Mapmaking: Cartographies of Asian America,” Timothy K. August, Stony Brook University

2. “Moving Parts: Travel as Working Through Racial Identity in Catfish and Mandala,” Min Lee, University of California–San Diego

3. “‘A Geography of the Imagination’: Hey, Marfa and Place as Racialized Subject,” Alex Howerton, University of South Carolina

Respondent: Rei Magosaki, Chapman University

12:40–2:00 / Session 10-N / St. George D
Business Meeting: Circle for Asian American Literary Studies

6:00 / CAALS Dinner / RSVP to CAALS Co-Chairs

Saturday 5/25

9:40–11:00 / Session 15-E / Essex NE
The Dis-contents of Asian American Literary Form I

Chair: Chris A. Eng, Syracuse University

1. “Of Dis-contents and Malcontents: Asian American Closet Dramas,” Christine Mok, University of Rhode Island

2. “Pan(ic) Ethnicity: Model Minority Melancholia and the Afterlives of Vincent Chin,” Takeo Rivera, Boston University

3. “‘You Want to See the Hyphen’: Deconstructing Asian American Literature in Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book,” Douglas S. Ishii, Emerson College

11:10–12:30 / Session 16-E / Essex NE
The Dis-contents of Asian American Literary Form II

Chair: Timothy K. August, Stony Brook University

1. “The Politics of Asian American Form, or, Why There Are No Poems in Aiiieeeee!,” Timothy Yu, University of Wisconsin–Madison

2. “Writing the Invisible: Recovering Orality in Hmong American Poetry,” Aline Lo, Allegheny College

3. “Furious Dialectics: Anger, Diasporic Irony, and the Poetics of Failure in Li-Young Lee,” James Kim, Fordham University

Afternoon / Mentoring Event / contact CAALS Co-Chairs for details

3:40–5:00 / Session 19-E / Great Republic
Mediating Histories: Postmemory and Just Memory in Asian/American Literature

Chair: Caroline Kyungah Hong, Queens College, CUNY

1. “Daughters on Borders: South Asian American Postmemories and Uncanny Archives,” Dinidu Karunanayake, Miami University, Ohio

2. “Recovering Lost Histories of Labor and Protest of Early South Asian Americans,” Rajender Kaur, William Paterson University of New Jersey

3. “Fictions of the Japanese American Incarceration: Aesthetic Possibility and Political Agency in the Post-Redress Era,” Christine Kitano, Ithaca College

4. “‘Caught up in the symbolism of it all’: Neoliberalism, the Model Minority, and Islamophobia in The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” Peter Krause, Fordham University

Many thanks to our panel organizers: Na-Rae Kim, Laura Wright, Timothy August, Chris A. Eng, Caroline Kyungah Hong, and Min Lee.

For more information about the ALA Annual Conference, visit the American Literature Association website. A full ALA 2019 draft program is now available.

CAALS Panels at AAAS 2019

Please join CAALS for two linked panels, Fugitive Bodies I & II, at the Association for Asian American Studies Annual Meeting in Madison, WI this week. Both panels will be held Friday, April 26, 2019 at the Madison Concourse Hotel. Details below the poster.

Fugitive Bodies I: Anomalous Embodiments in Asian American Cultural Productions, 10:00–11:30 a.m., Conference Room 1

Chair: Caroline Kyungah Hong, Queens College, City University of New York 


Kai Hang Cheang, University of North Dakota, “Gendered Detours: Vehicular Mobility and Community Mobilization in Asian American Women’s Road Narratives of the Post-Internment Moment”

Toni Hays, University of California, Irvine, “Speculative Hybriscapes: Thinking Race through Continental Arrangements” 

Alexander Howerton, University of South Carolina, “Coolitude Humanimality: Aspirational Hybridity in Rajiv Mohabir’s Poetry”

Fugitive Bodies II: The Mixed Race Asian American Literary Imagination, 2:45–4:15 p.m., Conference Room 2

Chair: Roberta Wolfson, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo 


Sara Lee, The State University of New York, Binghamton University, “Racial Ambiguity within the Family:Fiction as Sanctuary in Chang-Rae Lee’s Aloft” 

Elizabeth Moser, George Washington University, “Writing Under Duress: Mixed-Race Counter-histories in Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer” 

Heejoo Park, University of California, Riverside, “Mixed-race Bildungsroman of Asian American and Latinx Young Adult Fiction: Exploring Cross-cultural Solidarity in Ellen Oh’s Spirit Hunters and Anna M” 

Roberta Wolfson, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, “Passing Away and Racial Passing in Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You