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

CFPs for CAALS Panels at 2019 American Literature Association Meeting

The next American Literature Association (ALA) annual conference will be held May 23–26, 2019, in Boston, MA. Below are calls for papers for the five panels sponsored by the Circle for Asian American Literary Studies (CAALS), which also holds its annual business meeting at ALA.

Please note that if your proposal is accepted and you agree to participate, you will need to become a member of CAALS prior to presenting, in addition to registering for the conference. For more information, please visit our website at

Panel 1 Title: (In)Visible: Asymmetries in Asian American Texts

Chairs: Na-Rae Kim, University of Connecticut, and Laura Wright, Berry College

Asian Americans have become increasingly visible to the public eye in various realms. Recent cinematic imaginations such as Crazy Rich Asians, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and Searching and bestselling or prizewinning literature by authors like Viet Thanh Nguyen, Marjorie Liu, and Hanya Yanagihara have all contributed to a growing national conversation around Asian Americans and representations of Asian Americans. However, while there are experiences and voices that become more visible through these forms, there are others that remain, or even become, increasingly more invisible.

We welcome inquiries into the asymmetries in Asian American in/visibility through various approaches, topics, and areas. For instance, how can we think about the invisible vis-à-vis the visible in Asian America? What are some of the productive tensions between them? Could some become more invisible because of the hyper-visible, or vice versa? Could this, perhaps, offer new insights for conceptualizing Asian American in/visibility? How do various genres play into this asymmetry? What populations are particularly susceptible to in/visibility in Asian American cultural production? What role does geography play in making some more visible than others?

Please email a proposal (max. 250 words) and a brief CV to Na-Rae Kim ( and Laura Wright ( by Monday, January 14, 2019. Please be sure to mention any technological needs for your presentation.

Panel 2 Title: The Dis-contents of Asian American Literary Form

Chair: Chris Eng, Syracuse University

For the last two and a half decades, debates around the characteristics, uses, and politics of “Asian American” as a critical rubric have compelled a scholarly critique of identity, auguring what some term a postidentity turn. Asian American literary studies has been at the forefront of contemplating the fissures of identity and its dis-contents. Susan Koshy and Lisa Lowe interrogate how invocations of Asian American identity unwittingly replicate modes of power aligned with nationalist ideals that suppress difference. Therefore, rather than approach “Asian American” as a descriptor of a subjectivity to be accomplished, Kandice Chuh posits Asian Americanist critique as an analytic premised on a “subjectless discourse.” Relatedly, Viet Nguyen critiques the privileging of resistance in ethnic studies and scholarly assumptions of a homogeneous set of radical politics under “Asian American.” Moreover, scholarship on war, empire, and displacement by intellectuals such as Yến Lê Espiritu, Mimi Nguyen, and Cathy Schlund-Vials further attest to the limits and inadequacies of grounding identity as the political platform for racial justice. In short, these scholars collectively interrogate cultural-nationalist attachments to the forms of identity and the nation-state as the bases for the theoretical and political work of Asian American studies. Meanwhile, renewed attention to formalism in literary studies has turned our attention to how race resides not merely as embodied difference but is also shaped through discursive arrangements, narratological techniques, and the ordering logics of social, political, and economic distributions. These studies of the formal and the aesthetic in Asian American literary studies complicate how a prioritization of apprehending content and context in literatures concretize fixed notions of identity. Instead, scholars beckon us to take seriously how Asian Americanness becomes articulated, reworked, and transformed through updated racial and literary forms.

This panel thus invites papers that grapple broadly with these questions of Asian American literary form. Specifically, in what ways might the formal, aesthetic, and experimental properties of literature shift conventional understandings about racial difference and Asian American critique? How can literature animate innovative approaches and insights into what Colleen Lye generatively terms “racial form”? How might attending to form nuance the political and affective work of discontent that Asian American literatures enact?

Please email your proposal (max. 250 words) and a brief CV (max. 500 words) to Chris Eng at by Monday, January 14, 2019. Please be sure to mention any technological needs for your presentation.

Panel 3 Title: Moving Parts: Travel and Identity in Asian American Representation

Chair: Min Lee, UC San Diego

The theme of travel is deeply imbedded in both fiction and nonfiction. Even more so in literature centered on the diasporic experience, conditions of human displacement are prominent. Dislocation—whether by geography, culture, or identity—is a trope regularly revisited in Asian American writing. States of refugeeism, exile by political dissidence, nomadism, economic migration, or tourism—these diverse forms of displacement encompass the transnational Asian American narrative.

If travel is about shifts through space and time, then the concept of identity can be seen as an equally fluid and mutable phenomenon. The idea that movement and crossing borders, imagined or real, effect change to one’s sense of self is a common theme expressed in a range of representations, from literary to nonliterary genres. Therefore, the notion that travel is transformative and the experience can shape one’s identity is central. In other words, the journey is not only through an external geographic landscape but the interior of the mind.

This panel invites proposals on a rich range of mediums and genres—filmic, pictorial, verse, or prose—that examines travel and identity as two wedded tropes. Such text-and-visual-based mediums may include graphic novels and comics, historiography, historical fiction, autobiography and memoir, to name a very few. Works of fiction and nonfiction articulating the profound ways unfamiliar, and once familiar, environments color a dynamic selfhood in Asian American storytelling are welcome. Again, the definition of storytelling here embraces a wide breadth of mediums and genres. If your interest lies in Asian American diasporic and/or transnationalism studies in general, we encourage you to participate.

Please email your proposal (max. 250 words) and a brief CV (max. 500 words) to Min Lee at by Monday, January 14, 2019. Please be sure to mention any technological needs for your presentation.

Panel 4 Title: The State of Asian America: Literary Representations of Asian American Space

Chair: Timothy K. August, Stony Brook University

The term “Asian America,” as opposed to Asian American, had a miniscule presence in scholarly or creative work until the year 2000, but has undergone a surge in Asian American Studies academic writing over the past 20 years. Despite the rootedness and place making implied by this spatial terminology, Asian America is a mobile concept that travels quite liberally in intellectual circles, crafting a rather disorienting conceptual history.

This panel will address the relationship between Asian Americans and the space they inhabit, queering how Asian America circulates in the literary imagination.  Potential submissions could address literary presentations of Asian American space, the commodification of Asian America, the transnational allure of Asian American space, and Asian America as an inter-subjective formation.

Please send a 200-300 word abstract and c.v. to Timothy K. August at by Monday, January 14, 2019. 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 your proposal (max. 250 words) and a brief CV (max. 500 words) to Caroline Hong at by Monday, January 14, 2019. Please be sure to mention any technological needs for your presentation.