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Joan Pong Linton
Asian American Studies Program

George Vlahakis
University Communications

Melanie Castillo-Cullather
IU Asian Culture Center

Last modified: Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Inaugural Graduate Student Conference in Asian American Studies taking place at IU Bloomington

Sept. 16, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Graduate students from across the Big Ten and the University of Chicago who are involved in Asian American studies are gathering for an inaugural conference on the Indiana University Bloomington campus Sept. 25-26.

Josephine Lee, president-elect of the Association for Asian American Studies and director of the Asian American Studies Consortium for the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, will deliver the keynote address at 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 25, in Ballantine Hall 105. "Crossroads: Asian America/Asian Diaspora Across Disciplines" is the theme for the Graduate Student Conference in Asian American Studies.

The public also is welcome to attend a poetry and fiction reading at 4 p.m. in the Bridgwaters Lounge of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave. Participants will include Debra Kang Dean, IU lecturer of English; Samrat Upadhyay, director of IU's Creative Writing Program; and Eugene Gloria, associate professor of English at DePauw University.

Hosted by IU and Purdue University and funded by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), the conference also will feature the work of students, a roundtable on teaching and a panel on professionalism. Anurag Mendhekar of Los Altos, Calif., founder of Blue Vector Systems and twice an IU alumnus, will be honored during the conference with the IU Asian Alumni Association's Distinguished Asian Pacific American Alumni Award.

Joan Pong Linton, IU associate professor of English and director of IU's Asian American Studies Program, said key benefits of the conference will include providing an opportunity for professionalization to graduate students, who will also get to know faculty and other students in the field and learn about research being done at CIC institutions.

"On any campus, we may have several departments with graduate students doing research in Asian American studies, but usually they're pretty isolated," Linton said. "We want to get our graduate students together, from across the campuses, so they know they are not alone."

Samrat Upadhyay

Chris Meyer

Samrat Upadhyay

Print-Quality Photo

About 40 graduate students will be participating in the conference program. Undergraduate students interested in Asian American Studies also are invited to attend sessions.

The title of Lee's keynote speech will be "The Rough Guide to Asian American Studies." She also is director of the Asian American Studies Program and an associate professor of English at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of Performing Asian America and co-editor of Re/collecting Early Asian America, both published by Temple University Press; she has also published numerous book chapters, articles, and reviews on modern drama, theater history, performance, cultural theory and Asian American Studies.

Gloria is the author of two books of poems, Hoodlum Birds (Penguin, 2006) and Drivers at the Short-Time Motel (Penguin, 2000), which was selected for the 1999 National Poetry Series and the 2001 Asian American Literary Award. He has also received a Fulbright Research Grant, a grant from the San Francisco Art Commission, a Poetry Society of America award, and a Pushcart Prize.

Dean is the author of three collections of poetry: Precipitates (BOA, 2003) which was nominated for the William Carlos Williams Award; News of Home (BOA, 1998), which was co-winner of the Sheila Margaret Motton Award; and Back to Back (NCWN, 1997), which was selected by Ruth Stone for the Harperprints Poetry Chapbook Competition.

Upadhyay is the first Nepali-born fiction writer writing in English to be published in the West. His first book, the short story collection Arresting God in Kathmandu (Houghton Mifflin, 2000; Houghton Mifflin Mariner Books paperback, 2001) was the recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award, given annually by the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation to emerging poets and fiction writers who display "exceptional talent and promise."

His second book, the novel The Guru of Love (Houghton Mifflin, 2003), was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year 2003 and a finalist for the 2004 Kiriyama Prize. His latest story collection, The Royal Ghosts, won the 2007 Asian American Literary Award and the Society of Midwest Authors Award in Fiction. It was also a finalist in the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and the Ohioana Library Award.

Complete information about the conference is available online at