The Grapes of Wrath at 75

I wrote a piece for the Ethos Review, recently founded here at UNC, on the significance of John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, which was published 75 years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

Arts@TheCore

Carolina Performing Arts made a trailer to explain its exciting new Mellon-funded initiative Arts@TheCore, which will help to get more students and faculty involved actively with the arts. I spoke a little about my considerable enthusiasm for all things arts-related, as well as CPA’s incredibly successful Rite at 100 festival last year.  [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cb52XpyDJnc[/youtube]

The Family Dinner Table

Updated Dec 2013!! My article on the politics of family in the JA incarceration, “Incarceration, Cafeteria Style” appears in the first ever Asian American food studies reader, Eating Asian America, released in fall 2013 from NYU Press. See our Amazon page here.

The A/P/A Institute at NYU hosted a wonderful book launch for us which was attended by well over 100 people. Chaired by Krishnendu Ray (NYU), the book’s three editors and three of the authors, including me, presented snippets of the essays and discussed the book’s overall motivation and contribution.

Below are some pictures from the event. Thanks to the A/P/A Institute at NYU for the photos.

 

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Top row: Robert Ku, Krishnendu Ray, Anita Mannur, Martin Manalansan IV.
Bottom row: Nina Fallenbaum Ichikawa, Zohra Saed, Heidi Kim.

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Steinbeck and his women

Cover of July 1950 issue of "Flair" magazine.My post on a little gem of a Steinbeck finding at the UT Austin Harry Ransom Center (a true treasure trove of literary materials) is up here.

Like many male authors of the period, Steinbeck’s depiction of women has often been critiqued. Here, he encapsulates his views on women to the point of self-caricature. Flair was a short-lived, very high-art magazine which had a well received run in the 1950s.

 

 

Learning 2.0

Thanks to Kim Spurr for this very kind feature in the College’s Arts & Sciences magazine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Carolina’s Diversity

Not by me, but a little feature about me this time. Thanks to Jackie Pierce for featuring me, and to Laurie Willis for all her work on the article.

Whitman’s Identity at War: The Wound-Dresser

My article on the reception and performance history of John Adams’ song setting of “The Wound-Dresser” (a great piece for baritone and small orchestra) is out from my friends at the WWQR. Thanks to editor Ed Folsom for his enduring support of Whitman and young Whitman scholars!

This was a particularly fun article for me to write (and a horrific bibliographical experience). It was a first venture into writing about one of my big hobbies, classical music, and I got to use an almost overwhelming variety of sources, including interviews I conducted with two tremendous opera singers, Nathan Gunn and Eric Owens.  I also drew on baritone Thomas Hampson‘s considerable public speaking about this piece, thanks to the New York Philharmonic media staffer Katie Klenn, who really went the extra mile in shipping me DVDs of his talks.

The only thing I didn’t try to do was interview Adams, and now, as I look at the piece, I can’t think for the life of me why not. I did use his blog.

Link here (subscription/pay required).

Citation: Kim, Heidi Kathleen. “Whitman’s Identity at War: Contexts and Reception of John Adams’ The Wound-Dresser.” Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 30 (2013), 78-92.

SAMLA

In November 2012, I was part of a panel called Asian Americans in the South at SAMLA. I am presenting on lives of the Bunker twins, Chang and Eng, better known as the Siamese twins, who settled in North Carolina. More to the point, I will be presenting on the work I have done with my students on their archival materials at UNC and our collaboration with playwright Philip Kan Gotanda, who has written a new play about the twins.

ASA 2012 panel

I chaired a panel called Archives of Memory and Erasure at the American Studies Association meeting in November 2012. We had a lively conversation about papers from Catherine Fung (Bentley, English) and Natasha Bissonauth (Cornell, Art History) and Chris Earle in absentia. I offered some remarks about various theories of memory and archives (but not erasure).

Fred Korematsu

Just out!  “When You Can’t Tell Your Friends from the Japs: Reading the body in the Korematsu case.”  Journal of Transnational American Studies special issue in honor of Sau-ling Cynthia Wong, spring-summer 2012 (4(1)).

Fred Korematsu, plaintiff of the landmark 1944 case Korematsu v. United States, famously had cosmetic surgery on his face to try to escape the ‘internment,’ the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.  This article examines the popular and legal discussion of his surgery at that time, which show that fears of Japanese spies and the supposed inability to distinguish Japanese, captured in the famous Life magazine article “How To Tell Your Friends from the Japs,” directly influenced the courts’ rulings on the legality of the internment.  The deliberate decision of the Supreme Court to excise this issue from the Korematsu opinion, which disclaimed racism as a root cause of the internment, is exposed through archival documents and drafts that betray a deep interest in his surgery, as do the government and lower court documents.  As a heroic figurehead of civil rights, Korematsu complicates the discussion of surgical patients as complicit, drawing attention instead to the legalized discrimination that drives such choices.  Likewise, key Supreme Court cases benefit from a close reading of the issue of mutable appearance and racial passing, as they show a common anxiety and inability to define race precisely on the body.

The issue is available for free online.

I was delighted to be able to participate in an issue to honor Sau-ling Wong and her many contributions to the field of Asian American studies.  In particular, her idea of “food pornography” is always a hit with students!