Web site of Professor Heidi Kim, Dept. of English and Comparative Literature

Tag: Asian American studies

Flower Drum Song and Immigration Policy

nancy_kwan_and_other_cast_members_in_flower_drum_song“Flower Drum Song, Operation Wetback, and Whitewashing: A Message from 1961″ by Heidi Kim appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books in September 2016. Showcasing work from the Hammerstein papers in the Library of Congress, this article details how Hammerstein and his collaborator Joseph Fields slowly introduced the idea of illegal immigration into this otherwise light-hearted musical, which with its all Asian American cast, was a landmark in ethnic theater and film. This work forms part of Prof. Kim’s second book project, which will focus on the public discussion of illegal immigration in the Cold War.

Share: http://tinyurl.com/FDS1961

The Budapest Quartet and Jade Snow Wong: BFFs?

the_budapest_string_quartet“Artist to Artist, Across the Years: Jade Snow Wong and the Budapest Quartet” by Heidi Kim appeared in the Library of Congress’s online feature In the Muse in January 2016. It begins, “One of the most engaging and charming anecdotes in Jade Snow Wong’s memoir Fifth Chinese Daughter, a bestseller of the 1950s, recounts how she, as a student at Mills College, cooked a Chinese dinner for a famous string quartet who her dean was hosting.” Kim goes on to detail how she found, in Wong’s archives at the Library, a charming story of a friendship that lasted for many years between the young woman who became a famous artist herself and a world-famous quartet.

AAAS roundtable on JA incarceration

In April 2012, I joined Greg Robinson, Setsuko Nishi, Gene Oishi, and Cherstin Lyon for a roundtable on New Approaches to the Japanese American Incarceration.  Greg and Cherstin are historians, Setsuko is a sociologist, and Gene is a novelist and retired journalist.  We had a lively discussion of our new works in progress and the enduring importance of researching and reaching out to talk about one of the biggest civil rights violations in modern U.S. history.

Faulkner and the Mississippi Chinese

“The Foreigner in Yoknapatawpha: Rethinking race in the global South” was published in a  Philological Quarterly special issue: The New Southern Studies and the New Modernist Studies in Spring & Summer 2012 (90(2&3): 199-228).

Though it’s not a well-known fact, there was a small but very visible Chinese minority in Mississippi throughout the years of Faulkner’s active writing career, and one that came to national fame in a Supreme Court case about whether they should be put in white or black public schools.  When Joe Christmas first arrives in Jefferson in Light in August, a sulky, light-colored man with no money and city clothing, the townsfolk label him a “foreigner.”  His name and indefinable appearance allow him to exist in an undefined limbo between black and white until he transgresses social boundaries in both directions, unlike the lone Chinese man in The Town and the Chinese population in real life.  Starting with the definition of foreignness in Light in August and reading through Intruder in the Dust (1948) and The Town (1957), I examine the role of the the Chinese as the most visible exponents of the foreign as a new party in Faulkner’s tortured generations of Southern history, comparing his surprisingly elastic social structures with the contemporaneous restrictions on the growing Chinese population in legal and social arenas.  Gong Lum v. Rice (1927), the landmark Supreme Court case that turned away from the singular consideration of African Americans as the “colored race” to define the Chinese as one of the “colored races” resonates with the white supremacist in Light who asserts superiority over “any and all other races.”  Ike McCaslin, one of Faulkner’s characters, voices hatred of the “spawning” and “breeding” Chinese, among other races, but even Faulkner’s extension of racial hysteria over miscegenation to include the Chinese who were moving into the Delta offers, as well, the possibility of eventual social intermixture and inclusion in his American South.

This article won PQ‘s annual Hardin Craig Prize for the article that has best advanced scholarship in its field.

Link here (requires Chadwyck subscription).



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