CAALS Virtual Conference
July 9-10, 2021

You’ve reached the homepage of the Circle for Asian American Literary Studies (CAALS) Virtual Conference. This is a synchronous, remote conference, and everything you need to participate is on this page. If you’re new to CAALS, we invite you to learn more about our work and connect with us.


Register Here

We invite all scholars, writers, teachers, students, and readers of Asian American literature to join us for our first stand-alone conference, to be held via Zoom on July 9-10, 2021. To register for the conference and receive the Zoom link, click here.

The same Zoom link will be used for all Scholarly Panels and Book Conversations. These sessions are free and open to the public. By registering, you agree to engage respectfully with our presenters and fellow attendees and to help safeguard all community members against online harassment. If you are unfamiliar with Zoom, here’s info on how to join our “meeting” (the conference). A different Zoom link will be used for the CAALS Business Meeting; please register for that separately.

CAALS especially welcomes emerging scholars, graduate students, contingent faculty, faculty at teaching-focused institutions, and scholars and writers from marginalized backgrounds.

Conference Schedule

Welcome Message by CAALS Co-Chairs

Hello! Thank you for joining the Circle for Asian American Literary Studies (CAALS) for our first Virtual Conference, July 9-10, 2021! We’re delighted to welcome friends and colleagues, new and old, to this meeting space. Our full schedule of events is online at caals.org/caals2021.

CAALS is the only national and international scholarly society for the study of Asian American literature, culture, and arts. We strive to be a supportive community of warm professionalism for scholars, writers, teachers, and students. We also maintain a lively Facebook community of academics and non-academics who wish to discuss and learn about Asian American literature. Learn more at our website: caals.org.

The Virtual Conference includes four Scholarly Panels and three Book Conversations. Scholarly Panels each feature three original scholarly or creative presentations on a topic of interest in Asian American literary studies. All Scholarly Panels make original contributions to the field of literary studies and include time for audience discussion. Book Conversations are a new session format intended to highlight new books by CAALS community members and to provide mentorship to emerging scholars and creative writers on book publishing. Each Book Conversation features two recent authors and a respected moderator conversing informally and with plenty of time for audience discussion. We also invite interested attendees to join us for the annual CAALS Business Meeting on Friday, July 9 at 6pm EDT. 

Warmest thanks to our panel chairs/moderators, presenters, and featured authors for their brilliant contributions; and to Timothy August and Nina Ha, our fellow Conference Organizing Committee members, for their generous labor. Thank you to Vivi Hong for poster design. 

The last fifteen months have taught us that community is essential to the work we do, and to our individual and collective wellbeing. We are proud to celebrate our community with you, and if you’re new to CAALS, we hope you’ll join us for many more gatherings and conversations to come. 

Mai-Linh Hong & Aline Lo, your CAALS co-chairs
July 8, 2021

Day 1 / Friday, July 9, 2021

All sessions are ninety minutes long except Movie Night. There will be a thirty-minute break between sessions.

12pm EDT / book conversation
New Multi-Ethnic U.S. Literary Studies by Leah Milne and Swati Rana

Moderator: Betsy Huang, Clark University

Leah Milne, author of Novel Subjects: Authorship as Radical Self-Care in Multi-Ethnic American Narratives (U. of Iowa Press, 2021) [book info | use code NOVEL40 for 40% off paperback, effective beginning July 13, 2021]

Swati Rana, author of Race Characters: Ethnic Literature and the Figure of the American Dream (U. of North Carolina Press, 2020) [book info | use code 01DAH40 for 40% off]

2pm EDT / scholarly panel
Literatures of Displacement

Chair: Timothy K. August, Stony Brook University

Julia H. Lee, University of California at Irvine, “Revisiting Angel Island”

Stephen Hong Sohn, Fordham University, “Under Four Flags: Narrative Form and Successive Displacements in Sook Nyul Choi’s Young Adult Trilogy”

Alex Howerton, University of South Carolina, “Obsolescence as Futurity: Anni Liu’s Radical, Sanctuary Present”

Organized by Timothy K. August and Nina Ha

4pm EDT / book conversation
New Critical Refugee Studies by Timothy K. August and Ma Vang

Moderator: Aline Lo, Colorado College

Timothy K. August, Stony Brook University, author of The Refugee Aesthetic: Reimagining Southeast Asian America (Temple UP, 2021) [book info | use code T30P for 30% off]

Ma Vang, University of California, Merced, author of History on the Run: Secrecy, Fugitivity, and Hmong Refugee Epistemologies (Duke UP, 2021) [book info | use code E21VANG for 30% off]

6pm EDT / CAALS Business Meeting (separate Zoom link)

Register Here for Business Meeting

Open to scholars (including grad students), writers, and teachers of Asian American literature who wish to help plan future CAALS programming, get involved in CAALS leadership, or join our professional network. To learn more, please contact caalsinfo@gmail.com.

8pm EDT / CAALS Socially Distant Movie Night: THE FAREWELL

Host: Caroline Kyungah Hong

Details about how to join this event were shared via the CAALS email list. For more information or to join the email list, please contact caalsinfo@gmail.com.


Day 2 / Saturday, July 10, 2021

All sessions are ninety minutes long except Mentoring Meetups. There will be a thirty-minute break between sessions.

12pm EDT / scholarly panel
Transfiguring Borders: Ethnic and National Interrogations of Asian America

Chair: Alex Howerton, University of South Carolina

Lilika Kukiela, University of Toronto, “Brief Orients and Orientations: Towards a Feeling of Transnationalism in Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Heejoo Park, University of California, Riverside, “Beyond Extraction: Speculative Geographies of Infomocracy and Through the Arc of the Rainforest

Laura Sachiko Fugikawa, Colby College, “Removal, Extraction, and Resistance in Manzanar, Diverted

2pm EDT / scholarly panel
Literature at the Crossroads of Empire and Critical Refugee Studies

Chairs: Mai-Linh Hong, University of California, Merced, and Aline Lo, Colorado College

Paul Bonnell, Independent Scholar, “(Un)Documentation and Intersection: A Transnational, Transracial Adoptee Hybridity Project”

Karen Siu, Rice University, “Ecological Imaginations of Trauma, Migration, and Displacement in Diasporic Vietnamese Graphic Narratives”

Hilda Hue Ma, Saint Mary’s College of California, “The Shakespearean Sympathizer: War and Tragedy as a Refugee Optic”

4pm EDT / book conversation
New Memoirs by Kazim Ali and Rajiv Mohabir

Moderator: Samina Najmi, California State University, Fresno

Kazim Ali, author of Northern Light: Power, Land, and the Memory of Water (Milkweed Editions, 2021) [book info]

Rajiv Mohabir, author of Antiman: A Hybrid Memoir (Restless Books, 2021) [book info]

6pm EDT / scholarly panel
Reading and Teaching Asian American Literature in the 21st Century

Chairs: Caroline Kyungah Hong, Queens College, and Christine Kitano, Ithaca College

Sidne Lyon, Miami University, “Necrotemporality: Ruins of Suicide in A Tale for the Time Being

Alexandra Lossada, Johns Hopkins University, “The Conflict Zone in Suki Kim’s The Interpreter


Mentoring Meetups (timing determined by participants)

Information about the CAALS Mentoring Program and the sign-up form were shared via the CAALS email list. For more information or to join the email list, please contact caalsinfo@gmail.com.


Conference Organizing Committee: Mai-Linh Hong, Aline Lo, Timothy August, Nina Ha.