English MATTERS — SPRING 2010


Graduate Research Clusters

As part of its efforts to stimulate cross-disciplinary conversations and collaborations, the Simpson Center for the Humanities funds proposals for research clusters on a competitive basis. As described by Miriam Bartha, Assistant Director of the Simpson Center, the clusters “create visible, supported opportunities for students and faculty to engage in common inquiry across departments. Research clusters allow participants to evolve deeper, shared interdisciplinary understandings, synthesizing and revising different approaches to problems and questions.” The clusters are invaluable to graduate students’ scholarly and professional development, allowing them to receive feedback on their research in a multidisciplinary forum, deepen their interdisciplinary field knowledge, and produce intellectual events for a range of audiences. “By learning to coordinate and negotiate among the group, engage extradepartmental faculty mentors, interact with invited speakers, and collaborate with Simpson Center staff, students gain new skills and networks,” says Bartha.

The English Department is well represented by graduate students in three of the five clusters sponsored for the 2009-2010 academic year.

The Race/Knowledge Project: Anti-Racist Praxis in the Global University
Pacharee Sudhinaraset and Kate Boyd

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The Race/Knowledge Project is in its second year of funding through the Simpson Center. This research cluster studies global histories of decolonial struggle. In doing so, we position our inquiries within the legacies of social struggles that considered culture and cultural politics to be key aspects of those struggles. In these terms, we recognize the university, too, is a place where race and inequalities exist and matter, as well as a terrain of social struggle. We focus on cultural work because it allows us to ask questions about radical coalitions, social critique, and political emancipation across institutional boundaries and divisions between “community” and “academic” work. The questions driving our project include: How does culture become politically meaningful? What are the different ways cultural work addresses race, social justice, gender, and sexuality? What is the relationship between cultural production and social mobilization? The events for 2009-2010 include discussion groups, colloquia, and organizing our conference “Life in Marvelous Times: Cultural Work in the Racial Present” with Vijay Prashad.

For more information, please visit http://www.raceknowledgeproject.org/.

Asian American Studies Research Cluster
Christopher Patterson and Kim Trinh

The Asian American Studies Research Cluster (AASRC) is an interdisciplinary group of graduate students, whose research engages in the numerous manifestations of Asian America, ranging from cultural production to state formation. We host events throughout the year, including guest lectures, roundtables, graduate seminars, and bi-weekly reading groups. This year, we are hosting a two-day symposium, “Local Communities and Global Identities in Asian American Studies,” featuring guest speaker Eric Tang. The focus for our reading group and events this year is the complex relationship between local communities and global forces. In other words, how do we think of Asian American identities and activism through shared experiences of movement and change? Our goal is to develop a broader constituency for Asian American Studies at UW, to put our work in conversation with a rapidly shifting field of study, to collaborate on journal articles and conferences, and to clarify the scope and methodologies that will shape future projects.

Queer + Public + Performance
Ed Chang

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Queer + Public + Performance is an interdisciplinary, collaborative working group of graduate students from the Seattle and Bothell campuses. Q+P+P hopes to mobilize scholars, teachers, artists, and activists to engage crossdisciplinary work that can interrogate the intersections of sexuality, publicity, and performance in places within and outside of the university in order to reconsider canonical queer studies. Our guiding questions include: How does queer (re)define the private and public? What is queer performance, and is it different from the performance of queerness? How might we conceive of queer creative performance and cultural production as theorizing “sexuality” in alternative critical, political, and “scholarly” ways? The 2009-10 Q+P+P projects include reading and discussion groups, quarterly colloquia called Tea Times, an online blog, and co-sponsored programs. Upcoming events feature a Tea Time co-sponsored by the Wing Luke Asian Museum in Seattle and a queer performance co-presented with the Race/Knowledge Project.

For more information, please visit http://queerpublicperformance.blogspot.com/.

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