This page provides a bit more about my academic self. Currently, I’m a full-time lecturer in the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Credit: Tiffany Eng

Credit: Tiffany Eng

I’m a bit of a nomad–I was born in Orange County, raised in San Jose, CA and Salt Lake City, graduated from an international school in Korea, received my BA in International Studies at Vassar College, my MA in a self-designed program from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University, and my PhD from the Cultural Studies Graduate Group, with a designated emphasis in Studies in Performance and Practice, from the University of California, Davis.

My book project, De/militarizing Empire: The Korean War, US Liberal Freedom, and the Korean Diaspora, traces the emergence, or “de/militarization,” of US liberal empire through a transnational cultural history of one of the most militarized borders in the world—the Korean demilitarized zone. I define “de/militarization” as the process by which the geopolitical forces that established the DMZ as neutral, neutralizing, and rehabilitative became the liberal script that camouflaged the US presence in Cold War Asia as a “gift of freedom.” This binding debt that must be (but never can be) repaid worked through mid-century representations of two figures who temporarily inhabited the DMZ—the nonpatriated Asian prisoner of war and the American border guard. I also consider a range of Korean diasporic cultural productions—from Sung Rno’s play Cleveland Raining to Dohee Lee’s multimedia solo show MAGO to Jihae Hwang’s Quiet Time: DMZ Forbidden Garden, a botanical rendition of the DMZ awarded the top prize at the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show—whose unsettled and unsettling articulations of freedom’s wreckage produce, what I call, a “de/militarized structure of feeling.”

Thus, my transmedia project contributes to a blossoming reconsideration of the Korean War’s official status as distant, contained, and completed by calling attention to both its unexamined origins and its unwieldy afterlife in a number of undertheorized textual, performative, and even horticultural reckonings. In doing so, my research illuminates how the collateral legacies of America’s “forgotten war” continue to impel the US’s Asian-Pacific presence as well as the Transpacific imaginaries that remember otherwise.

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My research and resultant conference papers and publications push the boundaries of the study of the US in the world by analyzing a variety of Transpacific media and cultural practices. For example, my dissertation chapter on Korean American artist Michael Joo’s installation video Salt Transfer Cycle was published as the lead essay in a special issue on Asian American performance art in the peer-reviewed journal MELUS. My expertise on the Korean DMZ and US imaginaries of North Korea were solicited for two book reviews for the University of British Columbia-based journal Pacific Affairs and the Johns Hopkins University-based online journal, 38 North, respectively. An invited presentation on my work on nonpatriated Asian POWs held captive during the Korean War was delivered for the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Diaspora Cluster Lecture Series. I regularly present work at national conferences for major academic associations, including Modern Languages Association, the American Studies Association, the Association of Asian American Studies, Cultural Studies Association, and the Dartmouth Futures of American Studies Institute. Recently, I was invited by the nonprofit organization “Friends of Korea” to give a presentation on my newest research, which looks at how the Korean War-era discourse of “brainwashing” shapes, what I call, “forged” and “forgotten” identities through Korean War veteran characters like Don Draper in the television series Mad Men and Korean American refuge migrants like the characters in Nora Okja Keller’s novel Fox Girl. I regularly share my research with my students and the local community, and hope to do so at the University of Maryland and in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore metro area.

Wellesley College students from my Spring 2016 American Studies course, "Asian/Aliens and Techno- Orientalism." We're holding up copies of Marjorie Liu's graphic novel Monstress #1.

Wellesley College students from my Spring 2016 American Studies course, “Asian/Aliens and Techno-Orientalism.” We’re holding up copies of Marjorie Liu’s graphic novel Monstress #1.

My research on Transpacific histories and cultures of war, empire, and militarism shapes my award-winning teaching. I’ve held teaching appointments in the following academic units and institutions: UC Davis, Hunter College’s Asian American Studies Program, the Prison University Project’s college program at San Quentin State Prison, Miami University’s Asian/Asian American Studies, Wellesley College’s American Studies Program, and, most recently, Harvard University’s History & Literature program, where I was awarded a certificate of teaching excellence and advised an award-winning senior thesis. I draw on my research, training, and involvement in the performing arts and media organizations to design theoretically-rigorous, community-engaged, student-centered courses in Asian, American, and Asian American Studies. From an advanced seminar on “techno-orientalism,” to an Asian globalization course that had students craft their own critical “Kpop” music videos, to a Korean War course in which students conducted oral histories with combatants and survivors, to introductory Asian American courses featuring Asian American cultural critics and producers via Google Hangout, my students improve their critical thinking in a collaborative, creative setting.

From "Stories From the Forgotten War: Korean War Oral History Exhibit." Course project for "Forgotten/Remembered: The Korean War and Asian/American Culture," Prof. Terry K Park, American Studies Program, Wellesley College, Fall 2015. Photos by Rebecca Darling and Terry Park.

From “Stories From the Forgotten War: Korean War Oral History Exhibit.” Course project for “Forgotten/Remembered: The Korean War and Asian/American Culture,” Prof. Terry K Park, American Studies Program, Wellesley College, Fall 2015. Photos by Rebecca Darling and Terry Park.

I’m also a grad school/dissertation coach for Ideas On Fire, an academic publishing and consulting agency helping interdisciplinary, progressive academics write and publish awesome texts, enliven public conversations, and use their multimedia expertise to create more just worlds.

Finally, my research, teaching, and advising is enriched by my background as an award-winning actor, off-Broadway performance artist, and involvement in a number of community and media organizations, including:

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