CanLit Author Spotlights

Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War : Author Spotlight – Lindsay Diehl

April 20, 2022

Lindsay Diehl is Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Theatre, Film & Media at the University of Manitoba. Her work has appeared in Postcolonial Text, English Studies in Canada, Canada & Beyond, and Rupkatha. She is currently working on a book entitled Asian Canadian Literature, which is part of a Routledge series on Canadian literature edited by Lorraine York and Robert Lecker.

Article

Journey to Hội An: The Theme of Return in Philip Huynh’s The Forbidden Purple City

Abstract

This paper examines the intricate theme of “returning home” in Philip Huynh’s short story “Toad Poem.” It argues that this story, with its focus on a character who enacts a return visit to Vietnam, allows for a greater appreciation of the active and ongoing connections between Vietnamese Canadians, their homeland, and its complicated history marked by Western imperialism. Importantly, these connections work to disrupt the discourse of the “grateful refugee”—a discourse formulated by the Canadian nation-state that suggests the refugee’s war-torn past has been resolved and replaced by a peaceful and prosperous present. Alternatively, “Toad Poem” suggests how Vietnamese Canadians can remain haunted by losses incurred during the Vietnam War. Diem has not simply left a “communist” Vietnam to flourish in a “free” Canada; rather, his memories and thoughts of the past continue to shape his decisions. Thus, his return to Vietnam denotes a movement back in time, as well as a passage across the Pacific Ocean, to reveal what has been excised from Canada’s state-sanctioned discourse.

Canadian Literature issue 246, Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.


Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War : Author Spotlight – Jason Coe

April 13, 2022

Jason G. Coe is Assistant Professor in the Academy of Film at Hong Kong Baptist University. His research interests include transpacific, Asian/ American, and sinophone film and media, cultural memory, and feminist theory. He focuses on understanding how film and media forms interact with cultural politics. He has published in peer-reviewed journals including Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, Journal of Chinese Cinemas, and Asian Cinema. He has appeared in media programs including TEDxTinHauWomen, New Books in Asian American Studies, RTHK’s The Pulse, and RTHK3’s Agender Cafe.

Article

Regenerative Remembering: Reconciliation and Recuperation in Transpacific Cambodian Documentary

Abstract

This essay examines examples of transpacific Cambodian cultural memory in The Roots Remain (2015) and Daze of Justice (2016) that approach the afterlife of the Cambodian Genocide with mutual affection, commemoration, and creative adaptation. The stakes of memory in these two documentaries are different than in the Cambodian documentary films of Rithy Panh (S21The Missing Picture) or Thet Sambath (Enemies of the People) that bear witness to trauma in order to resist forgetting through the testimony of victims and perpetrators. These films also differ from Asian American documentaries about 1.5 generation SE Asian refugees resettling in North America such as AKA Don Bonus (Spencer Nakasako/Sokly Ny, 1995), Kelly Loves Tony (Nakasako, 1998), or returnee documentaries about subjects uncovering family memory in order to understand and reshape their own identifications as seen in Refugee (Nakasako, 2003). Both Daze of Justice and The Roots Remain are not fact-finding missions like their predecessors in New Cambodian Cinema and Asian American film and media. Through a process of reconciling and recuperating collective memory that I describe as regenerative remembering, the Cambodian Canadian and Cambodian American subjects of these films work to restore communal relations severed by generational difference, transpacific migration, and silence.

Canadian Literature issue 246, Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.


Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War : Author Spotlight – Timothy K. August

March 23, 2022

Timothy K. August is an Associate Professor of English at Stony Brook University. His latest publications have appeared in MELUS, LIT: Literature, Interpretation, Theory; and The Oxford Encyclopedia of Asian American Literature and Culture. He also co-edited a special issue of the Canadian Review of American Studies titled, Vietnam, War, and the Global Imagination. His book The Refugee Aesthetic: Reimagining Southeast Asian America (Temple University Press, 2020), addresses why a number of Southeast Asian American authors have recently embraced the refugee identity as a transformative position.

Article

The Refugee, Recently: Souvankham Thammavongsa, Philip Huynh, and the Aesthetics of Heterogeneity

Abstract

In this article I will be identifying uses, techniques, and goals of Southeast Asian Canadian refugee aesthetics in the present moment. Looking specifically at Souvankham Thammavongsa’s How to Pronounce Knife and Philip Huynh’s The Forbidden Purple City I show how each piece leverages what Ming Tiampo has called, the “aesthetics of heterogeneity” to articulate how refugee collectivities exists beyond state designations. While Thammavongsa and Huynh write from and about different Southeast Asian communities, as well as belonging to differing immigrant “waves,” both texts are similar in how they present a plurality of voices, with various interests, perspectives, and drives. This approach contrasts with the singularity that has positioned Southeast Asian Canadian refugees as the stable exemplary subject needed for Canadian national mythologies to be formed. I propose that a contemporary aesthetic of heterogeneity intervenes in the imagining of the Canadian social milieu, where refugee authors illustrate the different structures of knowledge created by refugee lives without having to represent and give up to the reader exactly what the refugee life is.

Canadian Literature issue 246, Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.


Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War : Author Spotlight – Wesley Attewell and Danielle Wong

March 16, 2022

Wesley Attewell is a visiting scholar at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University. He works at the intersection of geography, Asian/Pacific/American studies, and history to map the spatial dimensions of US empire-building from the Cold War on. His first book, Developing Violence: Disassembling the USAID Complex in Afghanistan, will appear from the University of Minnesota Press in 2022. He is currently working on a second book project entitled The Lifelines of Empire: Logistical Life in the Decolonizing Pacific.

Danielle Wong is Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literatures at the University of British Columbia. Her research and teaching interests are at the intersections of race, empire, and technology. Her current book project, Racial Virtuality: The New Media Life of Asianness, traces a genealogy of the “virtual” in racial capitalist, settler-colonial logics, and examines how everyday experiments applications of virtuality are entangled with Asian diasporic and Asian North American racialization and labour.

Article

Donut Time: Refugee Place-Making in 24/7 Afterwar

Abstract

By analyzing Duffin’s Donuts in East Vancouver as a temporal-spatial landscape of afterwar, we suggest that refugee place-making entails racial taste-making—the labour and pleasures involved in producing sensorial, culinary, and aesthetic tastes that constitute the everyday experiences of imperial haunting. We argue that the donut shop’s 24/7 temporality indexes such a haunting: On the one hand, it marks the long duration and unrelenting conditions of labour exploitation under racial capitalism and transpacific imperialism, and, on the other, it fragments and suspends the linear chronology of multicultural inclusion and capitalist success. We conduct a close reading of the restaurant’s spatial aesthetics, signage, and menu in order to consider how the readymade—as a genre of art objects and as instant meals—traces lineages of transpacific imperialism and makes apparent the limits of neoliberalism’s promises of seamless production. We situate the intersection at Knight Street and 41st Avenue within the global circuits of supply chain capitalism. In doing so, we tell an alternative story of the Cambodian donut shop—one in which Duffin’s serves as a hinge that links East Vancouver to larger, ongoing projects of just-in-time Empire, and allows us to see the possible survival strategies of, and opportunities for solidarities through, refugee place-making.

Canadian Literature issue 246, Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.


Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War : Author Spotlight – Y-Dang Troeung

March 9, 2022

Y-Dang Troeung is a mother, researcher, writer, and Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literatures at the University of British Columbia. She is also a 2020/2021 Wall Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. Y-Dang grew up in a small town in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. She lived in Hong Kong for six years before beginning her position at UBC in 2018. As a graduate student, she published her first scholarly essay in Canadian Literature in 2010 and is now happy to be affiliated with the journal as an Associate Editor.

 

Article

On Refugee Worldmaking (Editorial)

 

Abstract

“While seared into the memories of most survivors who lived through the war first-hand, audiences here in Canada likely remember experiencing the last days of the Vietnam War from a distance, as they watched the scenes of frantic helicopter refugee evacuations in Southeast Asia flood the news. As I write this editorial for the special issue on Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War, these scenes of wartime upheaval, refugee evacuations, and people left behind in the ruins and ravages of war to fend for themselves are with us once again—not from Cambodia, Vietnam, or Laos this time, but from Afghanistan.”

 

Canadian Literature issue 246, Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.


Pandemics: Author Spotlight – Liz Howard

March 2, 2022

Photo Credit: Ralph Kolewe

Liz Howard’s debut collection Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent won the 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize, was shortlisted for the 2015 Governor General’s Award for poetry, and was named a Globe and Mail top 100 book. Her second collection, Letters in a Bruised Cosmos, was published by McClelland & Stewart in June 2021. Howard received an Honours Bachelor of Science with High Distinction from the University of Toronto, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph. She is of mixed settler and Anishinaabe heritage. Born and raised on Treaty 9 territory in northern Ontario, she currently lives in Toronto.

 

Her poem “JEANETTE BRAIDS HER HAIR INTO MINE” can be read on our website at https://canlit.ca/article/jeanette-braids-her-hair-into-mine/ as part of our Verse Forward 2 poetry reading series.

 

Canadian Literature issue 245, Pandemics, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.


Pandemics: Author Spotlight – Sharon Engbrecht

February 23, 2022

Sharon Engbrecht is a PhD Candidate in Literary Studies at the University of British Columbia. Their dissertation, “Challenging the Scripts of Romantic Love: British and Canadian Women’s Critical-Romance Novels,” focuses on women’s writing as a form of queer knowledge production in response to the “straightening” narratives of romantic love. They are currently an in-house student-staff writer at Canadian Literature.

 

Article

Verse Forward: A Canadian Literature Poetry Reading Series

 

Abstract

This contribution reviews the history of poetry at Canadian Literature, through CanLit Poets and now Verse Forward: Poetry on the Front Lines, a poetry reading series. Looking at the first two Verse Forward events, Sharon brings out the urgent work the poet-activists do, calling on readers to meditate on the multiplicity of meanings in each poem. Drawing from the authors’ conversations with Phinder Dulai, series creator and emcee, Sharon considers how we arrive at alternative connectivities during the COVID_19 pandemic.

 

Canadian Literature issue 245, Pandemics, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.


Pandemics: Author Spotlight – Caroline Misner

February 16, 2022

Caroline Misner’s work has appeared in numerous publications in the USA, Canada, India and the UK.  She has been nominated for the prestigious McClelland & Stewart Journey Anthology Prize for the short story “Strange Fruit”; in 2011 another short story and a poem were nominated for the Pushcart Prize.  She lives in the beautiful Haliburton Highlands of Northern Ontario where she continues to draw inspiration for her work.  She is the author of the Young Adult fantasy series “The Daughters of Eldox”.  Her latest novel, “The Spoon Asylum” was released in May of 2018 by Thistledown Press and was nominated by the publisher for the Governor General Award. You can view more of her work at her website: carolinemisner.com.

 

Her poem “Inside the Lazaretto” can be read on our website at https://canlit.ca/article/inside-the-lazaretto/.

 

Canadian Literature issue 245, Pandemics, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.


Pandemics: Forum Spotlight – Race, Visuality, and COVID-19

February 9, 2022

Abstract

This forum emerged out of a series of conversations that began as virtual panels in 2020, including a public roundtable, titled “COVID-19 Vulnerabilities: Asian Racialization, Coalition, and Creativity,” that brought together community organizers, artists, and scholars located in North America and Asia, as well as artists’ conversations and screenings of Seoul-based web art duo YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES’ recent artworks, CHARLIE CHAN AND THE YELLOW PERIL and GUNS ‘N ASIANS. With a focus on Asian and Asian North American racialization, cultural production, and migration, this collection of essays moves beyond the question, “How do you solve a problem you can’t see?” and instead attends to the inquiry: How does COVID-19 engender ways of seeing and not seeing racially?

 

Danielle Wong

Danielle Wong is Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literatures at the University of British Columbia. Her research and teaching interests are at the intersections of race, empire, and technology. Her current book project, Racial Virtuality: The New Media Life of Asianness, traces a genealogy of the “virtual” in racial capitalist, settler colonial logics, and examines how everyday experiments applications of virtuality are entangled with Asian diasporic and Asian North American racialization and labour.

Article

Pandemic Racial Visions

 

Thy Phu

Thy Phu is Professor of Media Studies at the University of Toronto. She is coeditor of Feeling Photography and Refugee States: Critical Refugee Studies in Canada. She is also author of Warring Visions: Vietnam and Photography and Picturing Model Citizens: Civility in Asian American Visual Culture.

Article

Our Masks, Our Selves

 

Clare Jen

Clare C. Jen, PhD is Director of Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Denison University, where she is jointly appointed as Associate Professor in Biology and Women’s and Gender Studies. Her areas of inquiry are in feminist science and technology studies and critical race and gender studies in public health. She explores oppositional scientific praxes, like biohacking and do-it-yourself/do-it-together (DIY/DIT) science, as feminist, queer and trans enactments of alternative scientific method(ologies). She has published in Feminist Formations, Ethnic Studies Review, Rhizomes, Knowing New Biotechnologies (2015), and Introduction to Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (2017, 2020) from Oxford University Press.

Article

Our Pandemic Conditions

 

Neel Ahuja

Neel Ahuja is Associate Professor of feminist studies and a core faculty member of the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of Bioinsecurities: Disease Interventions, Empire, and the Government of Species (2016).

Article

Visualizing COVID-19 Emergency in India

 

Melissa Karmen Lee

Melissa Karmen Lee 李林嘉敏 is a visual arts curator and literature scholar and the Director of Education and Public Programs at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Her previous appointments include Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Art, Hong Kong, David Lam Centre, Simon Fraser University, and English Department, Chinese University of Hong Kong. She has published on art and literature including Protest as Polyphony: Raqs Media Collective (ASAP Journal), Hospitality and Chinese Diasporic fiction (Routledge Press), “Diasporic Literature: The Politics of Identity and Language” (Journal of Asian Pacific Communications),  and “The Politics of Fiction: A Response to New Orientalism in Type” (Journal of Multicultural Discourses).

Article

The Minor Key in YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES: CHARLIE CHAN AND THE YELLOW PERIL

 

Ivetta Sunyoung Kang

Ivetta Sunyoung Kang (she/her) is a South Korean-born interdisciplinary artist and writer based in Tiohtià:ke/Montreal and Tkaronto/Toronto, Canada. She obtained her MFA at Concordia University in Canada. She works across moving-image-based media, text, participatory and performative work and also writes poetry and fiction. She has internationally presented her work at film festivals and galleries, including Jeon-Ju International Film Festival, South Korea; Chennai International Women Film Festival, India; Leonard Bina Ellen, M.A.I., Canada; SomoS Art House; Germany, Arlington Arts Center, the USA. She is a co-founding member of an artist collective called Quite Ourselves.

Article

Intimacy as Art Practice

 

Canadian Literature issue 245, Pandemics, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.


Pandemics: Author Spotlight – D. S. Stymeist

February 2, 2022

D.S. Stymeist’s debut collection, The Bone Weir, was published by Frontenac in 2016 and was a finalist for the Canadian Author’s Association Award for Poetry. He continues to publish widely in both academic and literary magazines. Alongside fending off Crohn’s disease, he teaches creative writing, Renaissance drama, and crime fiction at Carleton University. He grew up as a non-indigenous member of a mixed heritage family on O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation; these formative experiences continue to guide and shape his cultural hybridity. For a number of years, he was president of VERSe Ottawa, which runs VERSeFest, Ottawa’s international poetry festival.

 

His poem “Last Dance at the Museum” can be read on our website at https://canlit.ca/article/last-dance-at-the-museum/.

 

Canadian Literature issue 245, Pandemics, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.