CFP Conferences

CFP: Panels for ALA 2011

Circle for Asian American Literary Studies
American Literature Association Conference 2011

The Circle for Asian American Literary Studies (CAALS) seeks papers for three panels and one roundtable discussion to be held at the American Literature Association Conference, May 26-29, 2011, in Boston, MA. Proposals should be emailed to each panel’s organizer by January 10, 2011. See individual CFPs for details. All are welcome to apply; accepted panelists are asked to become members of CAALS by the date of the convention.

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1. Comparative Ethnic Religion in a Postsecular World
Chair: Khanh Ho, Grinnell College
Co-sponsored by the Latino/a Literature and Culture Society

What is the role of religion in a moment popularly termed “postsecular”? What is its potential place in the various disciplines of Ethnic Studies? Can the sacred be a site of intersectionality and coalition building? Or is it simply false consciousness– the cynical window dressing of the hegemonic state? This panel calls for papers engaged in comparativist interethnic investigation between Asian American Studies and any other Ethnic Studies group. It seeks to move the conversation about race, literature and religion beyond what Miguel De La Torre has termed the “impressive cul-de-sacs from which to master our particular disciplines.” In the spirit of this enterprise, all comparativist offerings are invited, as long as they promote deeper understanding about the uses of religion between the ethnic literatures. Of special interest are those papers that interrogate common strategies by which literary artists harness nonwestern spiritual traditions, including New Age or recently invented spiritualities. Please send 1-page abstracts and a 2-page CV to Khanh Ho ( by January 10, 2011.

2. Techno-Orientalism and Asian American Culture
Chair: David Roh, Old Dominion University

In literature, film and popular culture, we often see commodified renditions of Asian technology and sexualized bodies, sometimes blended into one (e.g., the android geisha). In Asia, technology differentiates and subsumes what some have termed “techno-Orientalism,” yet one of the prevailing derisive images of Asian America is that of the gamer or techno-geek. Why is it that high-tech Asian America is the subject of derision while Asia signifies the “cool” of science fiction? For instance, science fiction’s integration of Japanese culture and technology concomitant with the rise of Japan as an economic threat to the West articulates Asia as a product/commodity and blends old world Orientalism with the new. Taken a step further, the practice of adorning non-Asian bodies with (often incorrect) Chinese characters may be a byproduct of techno-Orientalism, a signification of both exotica and cybernetics, in the way that Sony, Mitsubishi, and Samsung represent high quality electronics. Furthermore, as Japan slowly gives way to China, Taiwan and Korea as an economic threat, how will the representations of Asia in literature and popular culture be complicated? This panel examines the seemingly paradoxical relationship of the Asian and Asian American body as signifier of both technological cool and uncool, and what that may mean in a global economy. Possible topics might include (but are not limited to): hackers, anime, manga, digital gaming, science fiction, cosplay, cyborgs, online communities, avatars, IT, tech support, giant robots. Please send abstracts in MS Word format (Name–Title.doc) not in excess of 250 words to David S. Roh ( by January 10, 2011.

3. New Perspectives on the Works of Meena Alexander
Chair: Trevor Lee, CUNY/Graduate Center

In conjunction with a planned reading by author Meena Alexander, the Circle for Asian American Literary Studies invites papers for a panel on the works of Alexander, who has crossed the borders of both nations and literary genres with her writing. As Alexander explains in her recent book Poetics of Dislocation (2009), “So it is when crossing borders – between India and America, or even between the rich multiethnic mix of New York and the white suburbs – I feel a transitoriness in the self, the need for a febrile translation. And somehow there is a violent edge to this process of cultural translation, the shifting worlds I inhabit, the borders I cross in my dreams, the poems I make.” We welcome papers that consider ways in which Alexander, as the author of two novels, eight volumes of poetry, and four books of criticism, has experimented with poetic and prosaic forms as a means of translating the transitory self. Also, we encourage papers that examine the critical connections between Asian American, South Asian, and transnational/postcolonial studies via Alexander’s texts. Please send a 1-page abstract and CV by email to Trevor Lee at by January 10, 2011. (Be sure to mention any technological needs for your presentation on your abstract.)

4. Pedagogy Roundtable: Asian American Studies, Literacy, and Education
Chair: Greta Aiyu Niu, University of Rochester

What does it mean to have literacy, or to be literate, in Asian American Studies? How do students and teachers understand and approach Asian Pacific American texts in American Literature surveys? This roundtable invites teachers in the Humanities and Social Sciences to share strategies and theories regarding the teaching of Asian Pacific American (APA) texts in a variety of classes. We welcome case studies that examine the successes and/or failures of incorporating Asian American works into courses that are NOT focused on APA materials. Participants might demonstrate ways in which APA texts are or are not marginalized in their disciplines. Illustrations of helpful pairings of APA works with other ethnic texts are invited. Interdisciplinary or multimedia examples are welcome. Please send 250-500 word abstract with some indication of the class and/or text(s) under discussion and short CV (no more than 2 pages please) to Greta Niu at