Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Happy Birthday, Betsy Huang!

Today is the birthday of celebrated author and editor Betsy Huang!

Betsy Huang is an associate professor of English and former inaugural Chief Officer of Diversity and Inclusion at Clark University. She is the author of Contesting Genres in Contemporary Asian American Fiction (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), in which she examines the political implications of narrative form for Asian Americans who write highly conventionalized genre fiction--immigrant fiction, crime fiction, and science fiction.

She is also co-editor, along with David Roh and Greta Niu, of the essay collection Techno-Orientalism: Imagining Asia in Speculative Fiction, History, and Media (Rutgers University Press, 2015). Her current research examines plague allegories and racial critique in contemporary speculative fiction.

Techno-Orientalism was an exceptional read that I've recommended to many of my students in order to appreciate the issues that will be considered as we develop the Laomagination project, and other works of Asian American speculative art in the decades ahead. Assuming the Clown Apocalypse doesn't rear its ridiculous yet terrifying head first.

Her work has appeared in Journal of Asian American Studies, MELUS, and The Asian American Literary Review. For CTRL+ALT, she hosted the Nerds of Color Reading Lounge with Lawrence-Minh Bui Davis and Keith Chow and co-curating a series of fan fiction by speculate fiction writers, poets, and comic artists, including myself.

As is so often the case, I first met Betsy in 2008 virtually through mutual colleagues in the Asian American Studies circles, and somehow found myself regularly challenging her to games of Scrabble at the beginning of 2009. Though she's usually careful at concealing her nature as a toaster, make no mistake, she's quite shiny and chrome.

It hadn't been until the Association of Asian American Studies Conference in Evanston, Illinois that I was able to confirm, albeit briefly, that she was in fact quite corporeal and not a very clever AI. It was a delight to have a chance to finally work with her so closely as part of the CTRL+ALT project of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. I also had a chance to meet her wonderful family, and I look forward to all that they will achieve in the decades ahead.

So here's to a great community builder, an imaginative, compassionate and compelling voice and a wonderful friend and educator. Read her words and be changed by them.

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