“Come almost home”: Deconstructing the Asian American Model Minority Myth in Chang-Rae Lee’s A Gesture Life

Asian American representation in the COVID-19 era “In being represented as citizen within the political sphere, the subject is ‘split off’ from the unrepresentable histories of situated embodiment that contradict the abstract form of citizenship. Culture is the medium of the present . . . but is simultaneously the site… Continue reading

Fear is a Virus: Xenophobia in Mostafa Keshvari’s Corona (2020)

In an interview for the Rhode Island International Film Festival in August 2020, Mostafa Keshvari, the director of Corona, stated: “The virus doesn’t discriminate … we need to learn from the virus and treat each other the same.” The idea of making a film to call for unity and solidarity… Continue reading

Covid-19 Triumphalism in China’s 2020 Docudramas

Just as Trump vociferated throughout 2020 regarding the “Chinese Virus” and “Kung Flu,” China was slowly turning international bad publicity to its advantage. Weiji, or crisis in the Chinese language, comprises two words: danger and opportunity. Flipping the former into the latter, Chinese propaganda for domestic consumption does not help… Continue reading

“We Are Not A Virus”: Challenging Asian/Asian American Racism in the 21st Century

The first time I collaborated with U.S. Studies Online: Forum for New Writing was when serving on a panel discussing Asian American historian Gordon H. Chang’s book Ghosts of the Gold Mountain in November 2020. [1] Sitting in front of my computer and seeing my colleagues from afar, I find… Continue reading

Asian American Solidarities in the Age of COVID-19

  ‘The majority of Americans [regard] us with ambivalence… We [threaten] the sanctity and symmetry of a white and black America whose yin and yang racial politics [leaves] no room for any other color, particularly that of a pathetic little yellow-skinned people…’ -Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer   “We don’t… Continue reading

Review of Topophrenia: Place, Narrative and the Spatial Imagination by Robert T. Tally Jr.

Cultural geographer Robert T. Tally Jr. publishes widely and frequently on many aspects of literary geographies, including the myriad forms of map-making. This book comprises his latest research and presents an excellent introduction to his work. Tally Jr. espouses the cartographic imperative: simply by being in the world, he argues, we map and reference our surroundings in an infinite variety of ways. Continue reading

Book Review: A Literate South: Reading Before Emancipation by Beth Barton Schweiger

‘Culture is ordinary: that is where we must start.’ Raymond Williams’ famous statement provides an epigraph to Beth Barton Schweiger’s important study of reading in the antebellum South, A Literate South: Reading Before Emancipation. Barton Schweiger builds on Williams’ statement to provide a bank of evidence that culture was, indeed, ordinary, in the rural antebellum South. Using two chief examples, the diaries of two families, the Cooleys in Virginia and the Speers in North Carolina, Schweiger uncovers how reading and printed materials were important parts of Southern culture, and how this is often ignored in studies of the period. Continue reading

Book Review: The World Reimagined by Mark Philip Bradley

In June 2018, Nikki Haley, United States ambassador to the United Nations, criticised the scathing Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights on his mission to the United States of America, arguing that the UN should instead focus on developing countries such as Burundi and Congo. Her response highlights America’s complex political geography of human rights, the subject of Mark Philip Bradley’s bridging of diplomatic history and cultural analysis in The World Reimagined: Americans and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century. Continue reading

‘Women of Genius’: The ‘Revolt from the Village’ in Mary Austin and Willa Cather’s Fiction

The American small-town has long been a telling index of American cultural identity and a genesis site for prevailing hegemonic ideologies, but many writers of the interwar period began a narrative iconoclasm of the small-town idyll. The Midwestern authors Edgar Lee Masters, Sherwood Anderson, and Sinclair Lewis, to name but three, destabilised the myth of the utopian small-town and instead rendered such spaces as provincial, lonesome, and conservative enclaves from which one must flee. This article contends that, between Mary Austin’s A Woman of Genius (1912) and Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark (1915), a distinctly female ‘revolt’ lineage becomes apparent. Continue reading

The Death Dance: the Pickwick Club Disaster in Boston, 1925

Investigations would later reveal that the Pickwick was structurally unsound, but in the immediate aftermath of the disaster city officials, the media, and residents speculated over the cause, with many concluding that jazz music and jazz dancing were responsible. Continue reading