The first book length work of Asian American and southern studies, Asian Americans in Dixie: Race and Migration in the South (University of Illinois Press, 2013) brings together scholars working in a variety of disciplines, all of whom are invested in analyzing the place of Asian Americans in the U.S. South. Jennifer Ho’s contribution, “Southern Eruptions in Asian American Literature,” focuses specifically on the intersections of Asian American and southern writing. Please join us at the Center for a discussion of Jennifer’s work; lunch will be provided.
Asian American literature has historically been set on either the East or West coasts, following the trajectory of most Asian American immigration and settlement. Yet as Asian Americans increasingly populate the South, stories about Asians in America begin to reflect this demographic shift. From novels like Susan Choi’s The Foreign Student to Mira Nair’s feature-length film Mississippi Masala, the South takes center stage, reorienting Asian American narratives away from West Coast Chinatowns or East Coast suburban subdivisions and reminding audiences of the global and transnational composition of southern communities. Used as setting, character, and symbol, the South erupts within Asian American literature as a force of violence, shame, and the redemption inherent in change. In addition to talking about her essay, Ho will discuss the genesis of Asian Americans in Dixie and what it’s like teaching a class devoted to Asian American southern writing (ENGL 371: The Place of Asian Americans in the U.S. South).
Jennifer Ho is an Associate Professor in the Department of English & Comparative Literature at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she also serves as the director of graduate studies (English) and teaches courses in Asian American literature, multiethnic American literature, and Contemporary American literature. Her current book manuscript, Racial Ambiguity in Asian American Culture (under contract with Rutgers University Press), considers various forms of racially ambiguous subjects (such as transnational/transracial Asian adoptees, multiracial Asian American authors/texts, and Tiger Woods). Additionally, she is broadly interested in critical race theory and anti-racist activism.