Department of English

Cathy J. Schlund-Vials


ProfessorPh.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Cathy J. Schlund-Vials

Contact

Interests


Immigrant and refugee narratives, Asian American literature, ethnic American literature, Asian American studies, disability studies, ecocriticism, ethnic studies, cultural studies, nationalism, memory, U.S. imperialism.

Biography


As a Cambodian American scholar whose work is rooted in a personal history marked by immigration, migration, and diaspora, my recent and ongoing academic projects repeatedly examine moments of dislocation, rupture, and movement. Such moments engender crucial connections between history, memory, citizenship, civil rights, and human rights. My current body of work (comprised of past and present projects) and my future research plans reflect global migrations between the fields of critical Asian and comparative Asian American studies. As an internationalist bridge, I consistently analyze the possibilities, limitations, and contradictions at the forefront of civil rights, human rights, and state-authorized humanitarianism. In so doing, I take seriously the turn in Asian studies toward diaspora, particularly with regard to Southeast Asia. I likewise engage a related shift within Asian American studies, wherein the purview of the filed has expanded to accommodate movements not only between nation-state borders but also across oceans, continents, and hemispheres. Prior to my appointment at the University of Texas, I was a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of English and Asian/Asian American Studies at the University of Connecticut (Storrs). I am a past-president of the Association for Asian American Studies (2016-2017), the president-elect for the American Studies Association (2020-2021), and a series editor for the "Asian American History & Culture" initiative at Temple University Press.

 

These intellectual investments in comparative ethnic studies, Asian American studies, and Southeast Asian American studies foreground the types of scholarly inquiries embedded in my past, present, and future projects. In addition to numerous articles, book chapters, and edited collections, I have authored two monographs: Modeling Citizenship: Jewish and Asian American Writing (Temple University Press 2011) and War, Genocide and Justice: Cambodian American Memory Work (University of Minnesota Press 2012). Most recently, I have completed research on three monographs.  The first, Militarized Excess: Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, examines the pervasiveness of and excesses inherent in American military culture during the second Indochina War, the Iraq War, and the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Clustered around various types of “sight” – inclusive of the vertical, the horizontal, the vertiginous, and the peripheral – Militarized Excess evaluates different temporalities (e.g., the military timetable, tours of duty, generational passages, and geologic time) and engages the sublime, an aesthetic mode which encapsulates the seemingly incalculable, the distressingly overwhelming, and the troublingly vast.

The second, Prosthetic Ecologies: Disability, Environment, and Human Rights, examines the role disability plays in the making of neoliberal humanitarian subjects; such subjects, I contend, are necessarily situated in catastrophic environs formed in the troubling aftermaths of war, natural disaster, and economic crisis. To access the various man-made mechanisms responsible for bringing these disabled subjects “into being,” I strategically utilize a schema I term “prosthetic ecologies.” Suggestive of human-made substitution and reparative embodiment, prosthesis, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, refers to “the replacement of defective or absent parts of the body by artificial substitutes.” Alternatively, the term ecology compresses a subfield of biology primarily concerned with the study of relationships, specifically between organisms and with the physical environment. Taken together, “prosthetic ecologies” operates as a flexible and generative analytic upon which to syncretically chart longue durée histories of state-sanctioned violence, state-authorized violation, and internationally-supported contravention. 

Lastly, my third book-length project, Planned Obsolescence: The Mediated Rise and Predetermined Fall of Ethnic Studies, represents a related yet distinct departure with regard to its overt engagement with critical university studies. Accessing the consumer-driven dynamics of “planned obsolescence” as an identifiable policy of inevitable sun-setting and strategic non-functionality, this monograph offers a new way of seeing Ethnic Studies as a term-limited commodity vis-à-vis the higher education landscape. As primary texts and key sites, Planned Obsolescence uses strategic plans, diversity task force reports, and the emergence of equity and inclusion offices to map the predetermined limits of such diversity work within the corporate, neoliberal university.

 

 

Courses


E 316M • American Literature

36215-36260 • Fall 2021
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WCH 1.120
CD HU

E 316M  l  American Literature

Instructor:  Schlund-Vials, C

Unique #:  36215-36260

Semester:  Fall 2021

Cross-lists:  n/a

Prerequisites:  One of the following: E 303C (or 603A), RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 303C (or 603A).

Description:  In The Uprooted: The Epic Story of the Great Migrations that Made the American People (1952), Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Oscar Handlin confessed, “Once I thought to write a history of America.  Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history.”  This survey of U.S. literature, which begins in the 17th century and encompasses the 21st century, accesses Handlin’s immigrant-focused characterization to contemplate and recalibrate the complex role migration has played in the making of American personhood, selfhood, and belonging.  Acknowledging from the outset that this movement-oriented representation disremembers the catastrophic conquest/removal of Native peoples and the forced relocation of enslaved subjects, this survey takes seriously and centrally the possibilities and limitations of Handlin’s characterization of U.S. history and nationhood.  Such contradictions – wherein e pluribus unum (“out of many, one”) visions of wholesale inclusion uneasily exist alongside past/present realities marked by state-sanctioned discrimination and dominant-held exclusions – are the foundation of this course’s multifaceted consideration of U.S. literature as a diverse canon marked by demographic, social, cultural, and political movements.

Consistent with its intended intellectual aims, pedagogical objectives, and learning outcomes, this course will enable students to develop and hone their critical thinking skills via close reading, creative critical thinking, and writing.  Lectures and lecture segments will be asynchronous and available on Canvas.  Mandatory weekly discussion sessions will be held synchronously over Zoom.

Texts:  Book-length works (all available as e-texts) include Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An Amerian Slave, Written by Himself, Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time, Arthur Miller’s Death of Salesman (play), and Lila Quintero’s Dark Room: A Memoir of Black and White (graphic novel).  In addition to these texts, the course will utilize a Canvas course packet including indigenous creation stories and works by authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Chesnutt, Zitkala-Sa, Kate Chopin, Abraham Cahan, Henry James, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Alison Bechdel, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Julia Alvarez, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Ocean Vuong (along with many others).

Requirements & Grading:  Reading quizzes and lecture exercises (25%); Discussion section and discussion board contributions (25%); Written work, including critical and creative responses, close-reading analyses, and more (50%).

E 324C • The Graphic Novel: Honors

36419 • Fall 2021
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM CAL 221
(also listed as LAH 350)

E 324C  l  The Graphic Novel: HONORS

Instructor:  Schlund-Vials, C

Unique #:  36419

Semester:  Fall 2021

Cross-lists:  LAH 350, 31134

Prerequisites:  Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.

Description:  This class takes seriously and centrally the rise of the graphic novel as a legitimate site of interdisciplinary inquiry and scholarly engagement.  From mainstream superhero serials to book-length graphic novels, from Marvel to manga, comics as blended image/text genre engages diverse disciplines, embodies varied methodologies, and encompasses multiple geopolitical spaces.  This wide-ranging approach to graphic novels and comics narrative draws upon literary critic Ramzi Fawaz’s contention in a 2019 PMLA article that comics is “a medium that demands an exceptionally rigorous account of multiplicity.”  Following suit, we will contextualize our readings of graphic novels via literary mode, media history, visual culture, artist interviews, comics theory, and comics criticism.

Texts (A partial list, subject to change):  McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics; Spiegelman, Art. Maus (Volumes 1 and 2); Lewis, John, Aydin Andrew, and Powell, Nate, March (Volumes 1, 2, and 3); Tran, G.B., Vietnamerica; Quintero, Lila Weaver, Dark Room: A Memoir in Black and White; Ware, Chris. Jimmy Corrigan; Millar, Mark. Superman: Red Son; Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home; Asano, Inio. What a Wonderful World!; and Tomine, Adrian. Shortcomings.

Requirements & Grading:  Participation in Class discussion, 15%; Weekly Responses, 20%; Short Midterm Paper (4-6 pages), 30%; and Final Paper/Project (8-10 pages), 35%.

E 316M • American Literature-Wb

35750-35815 • Spring 2021
Internet; Synchronous
CD HU

E 316M  l  American Literature-WB

 

Instructor:  Schlund-Vials, C

Unique #:  35750-35815

Semester:  Spring 2021

Cross-lists:  n/a

 

Prerequisites:  One of the following: E 303C (or 603A), RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 303C (or 603A).

 

Description:  In The Uprooted: The Epic Story of the Great Migrations that Made the American People (1952), Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Oscar Handlin confessed, “Once I thought to write a history of America.  Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history.”  This survey of U.S. literature, which begins in the 17th century and encompasses the 21st century, accesses Handlin’s immigrant-focused characterization to contemplate and recalibrate the complex role migration has played in the making of American personhood, selfhood, and belonging.  Acknowledging from the outset that this movement-oriented representation disremembers the catastrophic conquest/removal of Native peoples and the forced relocation of enslaved subjects, this survey takes seriously and centrally the possibilities and limitations of Handlin’s characterization of U.S. history and nationhood.  Such contradictions – wherein e pluribus unum (“out of many, one”) visions of wholesale inclusion uneasily exist alongside past/present realities marked by state-sanctioned discrimination and dominant-held exclusions – are the foundation of this course’s multifaceted consideration of U.S. literature as a diverse canon marked by demographic, social, cultural, and political movements.

 

Consistent with its intended intellectual aims, pedagogical objectives, and learning outcomes, this course will enable students to develop and hone their critical thinking skills via close reading, creative critical thinking, and writing.  Lectures and lecture segments will be asynchronous and available on Canvas.  Mandatory weekly discussion sessions will be held synchronously over Zoom.

 

Texts:  Book-length works (all available as e-texts) include Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An Amerian Slave, Written by Himself, Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time, Arthur Miller’s Death of Salesman (play), and Lila Quintero’s Dark Room: A Memoir of Black and White (graphic novel).  In addition to these texts, the course will utilize a Canvas course packet including indigenous creation stories and works by authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Chesnutt, Zitkala-Sa, Kate Chopin, Abraham Cahan, Henry James, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Alison Bechdel, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Julia Alvarez, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Ocean Vuong (along with many others).

 

Requirements & Grading:  Reading quizzes and lecture exercises (25%); Discussion section and discussion board contributions (25%); Written work, including critical and creative responses, close-reading analyses, and more (50%).

E 343T • Contemp Asian American Novels

36140 • Spring 2021
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM CBA 4.324
Hybrid/Blended
(also listed as AAS 320C)

E 343T  l  Contemporary Asian American Novels

 

Instructor:  Schlund-Vials, C.

Unique #:  36140

Semester:  Spring 2021

Cross-lists:  AAS 320C, 32485

 

Prerequisites:  Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.

 

Description:  In 2016, critic/author Viet Thanh Nguyen became the first Asian American recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for his debut novel, The Sympathizer, which the esteemed selection committee averred was a “layered immigrant tale told in the wry, confessional voice of a ‘man of two minds’ – and two countries, Vietnam and the United States.”  Despite the significance of Nguyen’s achievement as a representational  “literary first,” and notwithstanding his current position as a highly prominent U.S. author, it is this Pulitzer Prize committee’s characterization of The Sympathizer as a “layered immigrant tale” narrated by a protagonist of “two minds” which foregrounds a semester-long consideration of the past/present state and stakes of contemporary Asian American novels.

 

Accordingly, this in-depth examination of contemporary Asian American novels through aesthetic “layering” and transnational “two-mindedness” begins with Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior (1976) and concludes with Nguyen’s aforementioned The Sympathizer.  It likewise involves an engagement with a diverse array of post-1945 U.S. authors whose novels figure keenly in a now-established, recognizeable Asian American literary canon.  Consistent with Lisa Lowe’s evocative characterization of such production via “hybridity, multiplicity, and heterogeneity,” this course uses as both central schema and guiding frame the ways in which contemporary Asian American novels reflect and refract the diverse ethnicities, transnational histories, multi-sited movements, and global conflicts responsible for bringing Asian American authorship “into being.”

 

Texts:  Book-length works (all available as e-texts) include Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, Chang-Rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea, Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Julia Otsuka’s The Buddha in the Attic, Jessica Hagedorn’s Dream Jungle, Monique Truong’s Bitter in the Mouth, Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese (graphic novel), and Samira Ahmed’s Internment.

 

This is a Rotation Hybrid section.  Students enrolled will be divided into groups and notified by the instructor which class days will take place in the physical classroom and which classes will occur online.

 

Requirements & Grading:  Participation in classroom discussion and  discussion board contributions (20%); Weekly Responses, 20%; Short Midterm Paper (4-6 pages), 30%; and Final Paper/Project (8-10 pages), 30%.

AAS 314 • Asian American Lit & Culture

31480 • Fall 2020
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM PAR 201
CDWr

Check back for updates.

E 396L • Postcolonial Theory

35225 • Fall 2020
Meets M 6:00PM-9:00PM ETC 2.114
Hybrid/Blended

Instructor: Cathy J. Schlund-Vials

Envisioned as a general introduction to postcolonial theory and literature, this seminar takes centrally the history, politics, polemics, debates, and dynamics which brought “postcolonial studies” as a distinct interdiscipline “into being.” To further our engagement with postcolonial studies and its literary resonances, we will consider a wide range of theorists and authors whose work on race, class, gender, nation, liberation, diaspora, and human rights accentuate the capaciousness of a still-shifting interdiscipline.

Required:

The Post-Colonial Studies Reader (2nd edition, Routledge) / Edited by Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin

The Intimacies of Four Continents (Lisa Lowe)

Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Rob Nixon)

Wretched of the Earth (Frantz Fanon)

Discourse on Colonialism (Aimé Césaire)

Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad)

Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe)

The God of Small Things (Arundhathi Roy)

Animal’s People (Indra Sinha)

The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable  (Amitav Ghosh)

Breath, Eyes, Memory (Edwidge Danticat)

Midnight’s Children (Salman Rushdie)

 

 

 

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