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Cynthia Wu specializes in Asian American and critical ethnic studies, U.S. literatures after 1865, disability studies, and queer of color analysis. She is the author of Chang and Eng Reconnected: The Original Siamese Twins in American Culture (Temple University Press, 2012). Currently, she is at work on two projects—one that examines military service among Asian Americans and the other on intraracial same-sex desire in Asian American literature. Excerpts from these manuscripts have appeared in Amerasia Journal, Meridians, and Signs.
In addition to her scholarly work, Wu has written for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She has held leadership positions in the Association for Asian American Studies, the Modern Language Association, and the Society for Disability Studies. She has served on the editorial boards of Disability Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Asian American Studies, and Text and Performance Quarterly. She is a past recipient of the Milton Plesur Excellence in Teaching Award at the University at Buffalo, and she credits her students with keeping her desire for learning strong.
In the past, Wu has worked as contingent faculty, student affairs staff, and academic support staff. Prior to academia, she did HIV outreach in Asian American communities and cultural history museum work.
Ph.D. in American Culture, University of Michigan (2004)
M.A. in English, University of Michigan (1997)
B.A. in English, Bryn Mawr College (1995)
Chang and Eng Reconnected: The Original Siamese Twins in American Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2012. (Honorable mention, Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize, American Studies Association)
“Distanced from Dirt: Transnational Vietnam in the U.S. South.” south: a scholarly journal 48.2 (forthcoming 2016).
“A Comparative Analysis of Indigenous Displacement and the World War II Japanese American Internment.” Amerasia Journal 42.1 (2016): 1-15.
“Asian American Feminism’s Alliances with Men: Reading Hisaye Yamamoto’s ‘Seventeen Syllables’ as an Antidraft Tract.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 39.2 (Winter 2014): 323-339. (Florence Howe Award, Modern Language Association)
“Synchronic/Diachronic: Flexible Historicities in Hisaye Yamamoto’s Nonfiction.” LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory 25.1 (Winter 2014): 57-72.
“ ‘Give Me the Stump Which Gives You the Right to Hold Your Head High’: A Homoerotics of Disability in Asian Americanist Critique.” Amerasia Journal 39.1 (2013): 3-16.
“Revisiting Blu’s Hanging: A Critique of Queer Transgression in the Lois-Ann Yamanaka Controversy.” Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism 10.1 (2009): 32-53.
“The Siamese Twins in Late-Nineteenth-Century Narratives of Conflict and Reconciliation.” American Literature 80.1 (March 2008): 29-55.
“Asian International Students at U.S. Universities in the Post-2008 Collapse Era.” In Flashpoints for Asian American Studies. Ed. Cathy Schlund-Vials. New York: Fordham University Press (under contract).
Cathy Schlund-Vials and Cynthia Wu. “Rethinking Embodiment and Hybridity: Mixed Race, Adoptee, and Disabled Subjectivities.” In The Cambridge Companion to Asian American Literature. Eds. Daniel Y. Kim and Crystal Parikh. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. 197-211.
“Disability.” In Keywords for Asian American Studies. Eds. Cathy Schlund-Vials, Linda Trinh Võ, K. Scott Wong. New York: New York University Press, 2015. 55-56.
Cynthia Wu and Kritika Agarwal, ed. and intro. “Debt: The Cultural and Material Logics of Owing/Owning.” Journal of Asian American Studies 18.1 (February 2015).
Jennifer C. James and Cynthia Wu, ed. and intro. “Race, Ethnicity, Disability, and Literature: Intersections and Interventions.” MELUS 31.3 (Fall 2006).
Reviews of Academic Books
“The Exquisite Corpse of Asian America: Biopolitics, Biosociality, and Posthuman Ecologies by Rachel C. Lee.” Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience 1.2 (Spring-Summer 2016): n. pag.
“Filipino Crosscurrents: Oceanographies of Seafaring, Masculinities, and Globalization by Kale Bantigue Fajardo.” Journal of Asian American Studies 18.2 (June 2015): 227-229.
“Activism and the American Novel: Religion and Resistance in Fiction by Women of Color by Channette Romero; Black Power, Yellow Power, and the Making of Revolutionary Identities by Rychetta Watkins; Guerillas in the Industrial Jungle: Radicalism’s Primitive and Industrial Rhetoric by Ursula McTaggart.” American Literature 86.3 (September 2014): 628-631.
“Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect by Mel Y. Chen.” Transgender Studies Quarterly 1.3 (August 2014): 445-448.
“The Remains of War: Bodies, Politics, and the Search for American Soldiers Unaccounted for in Southeast Asia by Thomas M. Hawley.” Disability Studies Quarterly 26.4 (Fall 2006): n. pag.
“Double Agency: Acts of Impersonation in Asian American Literature by Tina Chen.” Journal of Asian American Studies 9.2 (June 2006): 209-212.
Reviews of Fiction
“Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson.” Public Books 1 December 2015: n. pag. < http://www.publicbooks.org/briefs/welcome-now-keep-out>.
“Tenured and Happy.” Inside Higher Ed 30 March 2015: n. pag. <https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2015/03/30/essay-earning-tenure-and-considering-responsibilities-faculty-life>.
“Publish a Book, Eat Cake.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 10 September 2013: n. pag. <http://chronicle.com/article/Publish-a-Book-Eat-Cake/141535/>.
“A Small Act of Resistance.” Avidly: A Los Angeles Review of Books Channel 19 March 2013: n. pag. <http://avidly.lareviewofbooks.org/2013/03/19/a-small-act-of-resistance/>.
“Who’s the Dope?” Avidly: A Los Angeles Review of Books Channel 27 August 2012: n. pag. < http://avidly.lareviewofbooks.org/2012/08/27/whos-the-dope-2/>.
“Your First Year on the Tenure Track.” Web blog post. Modern Language Association Commons, 6 May 2015. Web. 6 May 2015. <https://clpc.commons.mla.org/2015/05/05/your-first-year-on-the-tenure-track/>.
To Love and Defend: The United States Military in the Asian American Imagination
In this work of literary and cultural analysis, I claim that the U.S. armed forces are a material and conceptual vehicle through which Asian Americans have historically processed their ambivalent relationship with the nation-state. Conversely, it is through the armed forces that the United States understands its place among racialized subjects—both domestically and abroad—as it manages its paradoxical image as harbinger of democracy and global-imperialist empire alike.
Sticky Rice: A Politics of Intraracial Desire
This work argues that intraracial desire among men has always been at the heart of coalitional politics in Asian America. Through close and historically contextual readings of Asian American literature from the 1930’s to the present, I claim that these erotically charged intimacies have been actively fostered in order to advance social change. Furthermore, they tend to situate themselves in contexts where the stakes of coalition building are highest and where intraethnic or intraracial rifts are deepest.
Frequently Taught Courses
Cross-Racial Encounters in Asian America
Introduction to American Studies
Biopolitics, necropolitics, and the management of the Body
Comparative Ethnic Critiques in Asian American Studies
Thinking Post/Transnationally in Queer Theory
Proseminar in Canadian and American Studies