On Popular Visual Culture and Asian American Literature: Interview with Professor Elaine Kim By Karen Chow On July 7 and July 8 of 2014, Karen Chow interviewed UC Berkeley professor and pioneering Asian American literature and visual culture scholar/filmmaker Dr. Elaine Kim via Facebook. In addition to authoring the first published scholarly book on Asian American literature, Asian American Literature: An Introduction To The Writings and Their Social Context, Dr. Kim co-founded the nonprofit multimedia organization Asian Women United (AWU; http://www.asianwomenunited.org) in 1976. Asian Women United produced several groundbreaking anthologies (Making Waves, Making More Waves, InvAsian: Asian Sisters Represent, With Silk Wings, Dear Diane) of Asian American Pacific Islander (API) women’s writings, in addition to documentary films about Asian American Pacific Islander women, including Slaying The Dragon (1988) and its sequel Slaying The Dragon Reloaded (2011) about the representations of Asian women in American films, television, and new media (Youtube). AALDP: Karen Chow Hi Elaine, let's start with Asian Women United’s (AWU) history, in particular what were the issues/concerns that led AWU to go in the direction of looking at film/media after putting together an anthology of women's writing (Making Waves)? Elaine Kim There was a lot of attention being paid to so-called mainstream feminist (white) concerns, and a small group of women working in mostly white male workplaces got together as a very informal support group, just to share our experiences. Actually, we really didn't know each other that well and had never been friends. We just had in common that we often felt isolated in our workplaces and thought that no one knew or cared about Asian American issues. I “suffered” much less because I was in Asian American studies, but we were so marginal within UC Berkeley.
is in need of updating to validate the modalities of writing that people, not JUST academics, read (and academics mainly read them to stay on top of the current research and ultimately further their own careers). Dear White People is a film that debuted at Sundance last year that is basically (from what I surmise from trailers/reviews) about what black people observe about how hilarious white people are in what they say/do around and about black people. So, yes, we are still dealing with the issue that you have to have a white focus somewhere in order for cultural mainstream to pay attention to it. About the clip length issue, I'm almost considering bringing a box to hold all smartphones while showing clips. The students' impulse to look at the phones constantly borders on compulsive in my classrooms--even if asked to put them away, they surreptitiously check them. Elaine Kim They say if Martians were to come to earth, they'd think cell phones were part of our bodies. AALDP: Karen Chow LOL. I'm also thinking about ways to use the cellphones as part of critical engagement (may as well join them if you can’t beat them). There is a site called Poll Everywhere where you can create a poll that people answer via their smartphones and the results post almost immediately. So you can ask them to answer a multiple choice question, or short answer question. But then it seems silly to do that in a classroom that isn't a large lecture hall. Elaine Kim In response to your last post, yes, it could seem silly, but on the other hand people have been reminding us that the lecture hall format was developed for 19th century classrooms, when the most economical thing was to gather 60 kids in one big room and heat just that room! We don't have that same world anymore but have been having trouble figuring out what would be better setups.
"On Popular Visual Culture and Asian American Literature: Interview with Professor Elaine Kim,"
Asian American Literature: Discourses & Pedagogies:
Vol. 5, Article 3.
Available at: http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/aaldp/vol5/iss1/3