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4-12-2012 Ashley Kunsa

Presentation Archive

Academic Year 2011-2012

Meeting Date: April 12 (Thurs.), 2011, 4:00/4:30-6:00PM, 207 College Hall, Berger Gallery, Duquesne University. Next event for our year-long theme of Migrancy.

There will be two events, one from 4:00 to 4:30, and the second, regular event from 4:30 to 6:00. The second is listed first.

Regular Event, 4:30-6:00pm:

History, Hair, and Reimagining Racial Categories in Junot Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Presenter: Ashley Kunsa, Duquesne University, doctoral student in English literature.

Ashley Kunsa is a doctoral student in English literature at Duquesne University, where she teaches creative writing and freshman composition. Her essay on Cormac McCarthy was published in the Journal of Modern Literature and reprinted in Harold Bloom's book-length guide on The Road. Her piece on Junot Díaz, from which the current presentation is taken, is forthcoming from Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction. In 2009 Ashley received a Master of Fine Arts in fiction writing from Penn State University. Later that year she was a finalist in Narrative magazine's 30 Below contest, and in 2011 she was awarded A Room of Her Own Foundation's Orlando prize for flash fiction. Her winning piece was published in The Los Angeles Review. Ashley has presented papers at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Conference, the Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture Since 1900, and, most, recently, at the International Conference on Narrative, for which she organized a panel on liminality in contemporary fiction. Her critical work focuses primarily on contemporary American fiction, specifically war narratives and women's writing.

Abstract: her paper investigates the nature of racial classification by examining Junot Díaz's 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao through the lens of critical race theory and historical research. The experiences of Dominican and Dominican-American characters who migrate back and forth between the Dominican Republic and the United States over the course of several decades in the second half of the twentieth century reveal that racial categories are not neatly transportable from one environment, culture, or time period to another. Ultimately, this paper argues that Díaz's novel demonstrates the malleable, contingent nature of racial classification and the necessity of rethinking and reshaping our understandings of race and racial categories to develop a multi-faceted understanding that accounts for a multiplicity of contexts.

Preliminary Event, 4:30-5:00pm:

Sojourning in the Margin: Living as wives of international students: A Dissertation Proposal

Presenter: Mengchun Chiang, M.A., and CIQR Certificate Candidate.

Abstract: The existing literature has addressed various aspects and concerns for sojourning international students, such as cultural adjustment, educational achievement, acculturation, etc. However, little attention is paid to wives of international students who accompany their husbands to pursue education in a foreign land. Wives of international students occupy a peculiarly borderline position at the converging points of culture, gender, institution, and nation in the margin of the society, which makes their ways of life at once more invisible and more pliable, providing an interesting context for understanding not only how their lives are lived, but also how gendered, cultural, institutionalized, and nationalized lives can be lived otherwise. The present paper proposes a study that aims at describing and understanding lives of wives of international students in the United States as sojourners in the margin. I propose a research with qualitative methodology that begins with the narratives of the wives in the telling of their stories about how they do what they do. The study is to hold the tension between the description of the stories and how the stories are made to mean. By inquiry into the constitution of international wives as gendered and cultural subjects, the study aims to highlight how the ascription of cultural and gendered categories modify and inflect the narratives and the practices of their lives, and to makes obvious the locations of power, effects, and resistance in the unique experiences of wives of international students.