artist info University of Washington

Stephen H. Sumida

Ph.D., University of Washington, 1982


B515 Padelford Hall

Professional Biography

Prior to returning to the University of Washington where he earned his Ph.D. in English in 1982, Stephen H. Sumida taught in the Department of English Language and Literature and Program in American Culture at the University of Michigan (1990-1998), the Departments of Comparative American Cultures and English and the American Studies Program at Washington State University (1981-1990), and the English and American Studies Departments of the University of Hawaii (1970-1980). He committed his scholarship and teaching to Asian American literary studies in 1975, when he became the coordinator of the Pacific Northwest Asian American Writers' Conference, held at the University of Washington in 1976. He went on to be a co-founder of Talk Story Inc., a cultural organization for developing research, creativity, and study in Hawaii's literature and arts. This activity continues today in Hawai'i. From 1986 to 1990 Sumida was a member and chair of the Committee on the Literatures and Languages of America, of the Modern Language Association of America, where scholars in Native American, African American, Chicano/a, Puerto Rican, and Asian/Pacific American literatures, were among the first to construct a view of a multicultural American literature. Sumida went on to serve as President of the Association for Asian American Studies and the American Studies Association. In 2007-2008 he was awarded a Fulbright Professorship to teach in Tokyo, at the distinguished Tsuda College and Tokyo Institute of Technology. He has participated in American Studies projects and given lectures widely around the world, in tune with his American Studies Association presidential themes of a respect for international scholarship in the field and constant attention to how internationalism and US ethnic studies impact each other. In 2011 Sumida has been honored with the James Dolliver Visiting Professorship in the Humanities at the University of Puget Sound.

Stephen Sumida's recent stage acting credits include roles in the theatrical adaptation of Jamie Ford's novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and in Nikki Nojima Louis's Breaking the Silence, performed in Hiroshima during Peace Memorial Week, August 2013.

Selected Publications

A Resource Guide to Asian American Literature. Co-edited with Sau-ling Cynthia Wong. New York: Modern Language Association, 2001.

*And the View from the Shore: Literary Traditions of Hawai´i. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991.

*Winner of the Cultural Studies Book Award of the Association for Asian American Studies, 1992

Asian American Literature of Hawaii: An Annotated Bibliography. Co-authored with Arnold T. Hiura. Honolulu: Japanese American Research Center and the Hawaii Ethnic Resources Center: Talk Story, Inc., 1979.

Articles and book chapters by Steve Sumida have appeared in many publications, among them the Journal of Asian American Studies, American Literature, Bamboo Ridge: The Hawaii Writers' Quarterly, Women's Studies, American Studies International, Journal of American Studies (of the American Studies Association of Korea), Pacific and American Studies (the journal of the Center for Pacific and American Studies of the University of Tokyo), American Quarterly, An Interethnic Companion to Asian American Literature, Reading the Literatures of Asian America, Growing Up Asian American, and a volume on intergroup dialogue.

Teaching and Research Interests

Asian/Pacific American literature and interdisciplinary studies; comparative American ethnic literatures; interdisciplinary American Studies.


AAS 320 -- Hawaii's Literatures

AAS 330 -- Asian American Theater

AAS 402 -- Contemporary Asian American Literature

AES 212 -- Comparative American Ethnic Literature

Graduate Courses

Professor Sumida offers the following three courses, when scheduling permits, under English 535 (generically titled American Culture and Criticism).

Paradigm Shifts in Asian American Literature: This course is a study of Asian/Pacific American literature examined at least three ways: as a literature of immigration; as a literature of diaspora; and as an indigenous literature. The course is also a study of how these paradigms may be related to one another as well as to other literatures in American culture.

Critical Issues in Asian American Literature: Asian American literature became named as such at a critical time, the early 1970s, and it has continued to be a site not merely of "contestation" but of conflict, controversy, raucousness, mischief, mean spirit, and capaciousness, generosity, and other attempts to counteract meanness. In this seminar we shall study highly select critical issues and move on to thrashing out others as interest directs us: the androcentricity of Asian American literature in the so-called cultural nationalist phase and the anthologizing or canon-formation in the early 1970s; the critical impact of Maxine Hong Kingston's Woman Warrior; furors and defenses concerning the hot properties, Amy Tan and David Henry Hwang; the denigration of "dead yellow men" in Asian American literature; the local, national, and international controversy over writings of Lois-Ann Yamanaka, issues of representation, and the alleged racist stereotyping of Asian Americans in Asian American literature.

Colonialism and Asian/Pacific American Literature: We will compare the colonizations of Hawai´i and the Philippines, both of which occurred in 1898 though by different, related means, to frame our study of literature that reflects and interprets the takeovers of these territories by the United States. The comparisons may also extend to the conduct of imperialism elsewhere in the world during the historical periods covered by our texts. The texts-some of them in full, some in excerpt form-include Lili´uokalani's Hawaii's Story; John Dominis Holt's Waimea Summer; Haunani-Kay Trask's From a Native Daughter; R. Zamora Linmark's Rolling the R's; and Gary Pak's A Rice Paper Airplane, on the Hawai´i side of the comparison. The Philippine connection comes through articles in Amy Kaplan and Donald Pease, editors, Cultures of United States Imperialism, which contextualizes some of the work of the seminar; N. V. M. Gonzalez's The Bread of Salt and Other Stories; Ninotchka Rosca's State of War; Jessica Hagedorn's Dogeaters; Peter Bacho's Cebu; and essays by E. San Juan, Jr.


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