Surface Relations

book cover

On Wednesday, March 29th at 7 pm, Vivian L. Huang (NYU PS PhD Alumna) will be joined by three preeminent scholars -- Karen Shimakawa (NYU), David Eng (U of Penn), and Susette Min (UCDavis) -- for an online discussion and celebration of Huang's recently published book Surface Relations: Queer Forms of Asian Inscrutability (Duke University Press, November 2022). 

In Surface Relations, Huang traces how Asian and Asian American artists have strategically reworked the pernicious stereotype of inscrutability as a dynamic antiracist, feminist, and queer form of resistance. Surface Relations received the Duke University Press Scholars of Color First Book Award. For this online roundtable, Shimakawa, Eng, and Min will offer brief responses to the book before joining Huang in a conversation. 


Vivian L. Huang is Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at San Francisco State University, specializing in race and performance studies. Her first book, Surface Relations: Queer Forms of Asian American Inscrutability, theorizes minoritarian aesthetics of inscrutability in contemporary Asian American literary, visual, and performance cultures. Surface Relations comes out December 2022 with Duke University Press, where it has been awarded the Scholars of Color First Book Award. Vivian's peer-reviewed articles can be found in The Journal of Popular Culture, Journal of Asian American Studies, Women & Performance, and Diacritics. Their latest work connects Asian American lesbian feminist writings of the 1980s and 90s to contemporary queer and trans of color critique.

Vivian holds B.A. degrees in English and Theater & Performance Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Performance Studies at New York University. Prior to arriving at SF State, Vivian was Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Williams College, where she taught feminist and queer studies, performance studies, and Asian American culture. Their work has been recognized by the Mellon Emerging Faculty Leaders Award, the Hellman Foundation, the Association of Asian American Studies, and the Crompton-Noll Essay Prize from the Modern Language Association and the American Studies Association.

David L. Eng is Richard L. Fisher Professor of English and Faculty Director of the Program in Asian American Studies. He is also Professor in the Program in Comparative Literature & Literary Theory and the Program in Gender, Sexuality & Women's Studies. After receiving his B.A. in English from Columbia University and his Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of California at Berkeley, he taught at Columbia and Rutgers before joining Penn in 2007. Eng has held visiting professorships at the University of Bergen (Norway), King's College London, Harvard University, and the University of Hong Kong. He is the recipient of research fellowships from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, and the Mellon Foundation, among others. In 2016, Eng was elected an honorary member of the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR) in New York City. In 2021, he was awarded the Kessler Prize from the Center for LGBTQ Studies (CLAGS), which is given to a scholar and/or activist who has produced a body of work that has had a significant influence on the field of LGBTQ Studies. His areas of specialization include American studies, Asian American studies, Asian diaspora, critical race theory, psychoanalysis, queer studies, gender studies, and visual culture.

Eng is author of Racial Melancholia, Racial Dissociation: On the Social and Psychic Lives of Asian Americans (co-authored with Shinhee Han, Duke, 2019, winner of the Boyer Book Prize and Association for Asian American Studies Book Award Honorable Mention), The Feeling of Kinship: Queer Liberalism and the Racialization of Intimacy (Duke, 2010), and Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America (Duke, 2001). He is co-editor with David Kazanjian of Loss: The Politics of Mourning (California, 2003) and with Alice Y. Hom of Q & A: Queer in Asian America (Temple, 1998, winner of a Lambda Literary Award and Association of Asian American Studies Book Award). In addition, he is co-editor of three special issues of the journal Social Text: with Jasbir Puar, "Left of Queer" (2020), with Teemu Ruskola and Shuang Shen, "China and the Human" (2011/2012), and with Jack Halberstam and José Esteban Muñoz, "What's Queer about Queer Studies Now?" (2005). His current book project, "Reparations and the Human," investigates the relationship between political and psychic genealogies of reparation in Cold War Asia.

Susette Min received her Ph.D. from Brown University. Before, she was at the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University and was Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at The Drawing Center in New York City. Min was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English at Pomona College. Her research interests include Asian American Literature, Ethnic American Literature, Asian American Art, contemporary art, and visual culture.

Susette Min is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Davis where she teaches Asian American studies, art history, and cultural studies. She is the author of Unnamable Encounters: the Ends of Asian American Art (NYU, 2018). She is also an independent curator. Her recent exhibitions include Welcome? at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum. Formerly, she was the Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at The Drawing Center and has curated exhibitions at The Asia Society, Whitney Museum of American Art, apexart, Berkeley Art Museum, Blaffer Art Museum, and Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery. She has published articles in Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, American Quarterly, Panorama, Trans-Asia Photography Review, Social Text, Art Journal, Amerasia Journal and the Journal of Asian American Studies.

Karen Shimakawa is the author of National Abjection: The Asian American Body Onstage (2003) and co-editor of Orientations: Mapping Studies in the Asian Diaspora (2001) with Kandice Chuh.  Her research and teaching focus on critical race theory, law and performance, and Asian American performance.  She is currently researching a project on the political and ethical performativity of discomfort.