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Asian Fun

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Organizer: Seulghee Lee

Co-Organizer: Alvin Henry

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A new wave of Asian cultural representation currently saturates the globe. In the United States, it presents nothing less than a watershed moment in and for Asian American life. Regardless of what most contemporary academic literary theory would have us believe, Asian American culture is flourishing. The preponderance of Asian creativity, sociality, voice, and being provides an opportunity to think about how Asianness and fun go together.

One paradox of the pandemic era’s onslaught of anti-Asian violence is that it will provide yet more opportunity for Asian cultural representation within the American society of spectacle. Such is the logic of racial capitalism. Yet it is also the case that Asian American culture has been a crucial source of sustenance and pride in this era. This new wave, we propose, can aid Asian American critical theory in giving lie to the generation of literary and cultural theorists who have emphasized melancholia, subjectlessness, and nothingness. In this ongoing crisis of anti-Asian hatred and violence, can “Asian American” cohere into a theory of racial being rooted in a marked and affected positivity, rather than the presumptive negativity that has saturated Asian American discourse in the twenty-first century?

We invite papers that engage the new wave of Asian and Asian American literary and cultural discourse. Topics could include the ways in which Asiatic fun, surroundedness, lovingness, and pride limn the possibilities for new theoretical regimes of Asiatic identity and being.

Possible paper topics might include:

-- the function of collectivity and/or ecstatic being in very-recent Asian American literary works by Eugene Lim, Tao Lin, Ling Ma, Xuan Juliana Wang, Charles Yu;

-- engagements with Asian American authors commonly associated with racial trauma and loss, such as Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Don Mee Choi, Nora Okja Keller, Chang-rae Lee;

-- the function of group voice and collectivity in K-pop, Asian American YouTube culture, Asian American independent music, and classic Asian American cinema (such as Better Luck Tomorrow);

-- readings of the limits of political allegory and verisimilitude in the recent Korean cinematic wave, such as Parasite and Squid Game;

-- engagements with theories of racial melancholia, racial form, racial feeling;

-- engagements with the trope of absence still haunting Asian American culture, exemplified by films such as Searching and Chan Is Missing

-- theories of Asian American being and/or the affective state of fun, broadly conceived

We invite you to contact us or to submit an abstract by October 31.

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