Yoonmee Chang Memorial Lecture


The Yoonmee Chang Memorial Lecture is co-organized annually by ASAM and the Penn English Department. This memorial lecture hosts a distinguished speaker in honor of Dr. Yoonmee Chang’s memory and scholarship. Dr. Chang (November 2, 1970 – January 18, 2018) was born in Seoul, South Korea, and grew up in New York. She received her PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003 with a specialization in Asian American diasporic literature and culture. As a doctoral candidate, Dr. Chang was a key student leader in the founding of ASAM. Author of the critically acclaimed book, Writing the Ghetto: Class, Authorship, and the Asian American Ethnic Enclave, she taught at Indiana University in Bloomington before becoming an Associate Professor at George Mason University from 2005 until her untimely passing in 2018.


Yoonmee Chang Memorial Lecture 2021

Speaker: Cathy Park Hong

Title: Book talk "Minor Feelings"

Cathy Park Hong is an award-winning poet and essayist whose book, Minor Feelings, is a searching work that ruthlessly reckons with the American racial consciousness. Hong weaves together personal stories, historical context, and cultural criticism to ultimately create an emotional and impactful exploration of Asian American personhood. Minor Feelings is the 2020 recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography. Hong is the author of several books of poetry, and is the recipient of notable awards such as the Windham-Campbell Prize. In her moving talks, she offers a fresh and honest perspective on race and Asian American identity, discusses how poetry and writing can be a means for understanding ourselves and our world, and comments on the ways politics and culture are influenced by art—and vice versa.


Yoonmee Chang Memorial Lecture 2020

Speaker: Karen Su 

Title: "Kids Know More About Dinosaurs Than About Asian Americans: Why We Need More Asian American Children’s Books"

Synopsis: The talk focuses on the representation of Asian Americans in children’s books past and present and the importance of movements to diversify U.S. children’s literature. Karen Su will also touch on her own process of becoming a children’s book creator and reflect on the stakes of Asian American arts and creativity. 

Bio: Karen Su served as the Assistant Director of the Asian American Studies Program and founding director of the Pan-Asian American Community House at Penn from 2000-2002 and worked closely with Yoonmee Chang when she was a graduate student at Penn. Karen Su received her PhD from U.C. Berkeley in English with a concentration on U.S. writers of color and Asian American literature. Currently, Prof. Su is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Global Asian Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She is the Principal Investigator and Project Director of the UIC Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISI)


Yoonmee Chang Memorial Lecture 2019

Speaker: Cynthia Wu

Title: “When Home Is Another Prison: A Draft Resister’s World War II Diary”

Synopsis: Takashi Hoshizaki was one of dozens of young men at Heart Mountain Relocation Center who refused military service during World War II in order to protest the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans.  This presentation examines a diary Hoshizaki kept while awaiting trial, showing that he and the other resisters strategically presented themselves in ways that aligned with a politics of respectability—as refracted through indigeneity, blackness, and sexual non-normativity.  Yet, breaches of this self-fashioning did occur through the resisters’ homosocial play.  The different carceral registers—the internment camp, the municipal jail, and the federal prison—are enmeshed in this imagination.  They also lay bare their own links to the military.

Bio: Cynthia Wu is an associate professor of Gender Studies and director of the Race, Migration, and Indigeneity program at Indiana University.  She is the author of Chang and Eng Reconnected: The Original Siamese Twins in American Culture (Temple, 2012) and Sticky Rice: A Politics of Intraracial Desire (Temple, 2018).