FAH-DENG Guest Lecture: “The transpacific poetics in Marilyn Chin’s ‘Summer Sleep’ and Li-Young Lee’s ‘Persimmons’”


Prof. King-Kok Cheung


17 May 2019


11:00 - 12:30





Through intercultural poetics the speakers in “Persimmons” and “Summer Sleep” chart their journeys from foreign pupils disciplined by English authorities to bilingual wordsmiths. Lee’s speaker, punished by a schoolmarm for his inability to differentiate between English words that look alike, later uses such visual similarity to replicate Chinese sight rhyme. Chin’s speaker, scorned by her mentor for being a “mediocre” versifier, becomes a sought-after instructor versed in prosodic sleight of hand. Both Lee and Chin address the loss of ethnic cultural heritage and reclaim their inheritance by literary cross-pollination. Where Lee attempts to align the two dominant cultural traditions, Chin subverts both. This essay demonstrates how transpacific literary exchanges can be advanced by radically different strategies, which also demand attendant linguistic knowledge and comparativist analytical techniques on the part of the critics to explicate.



Prof. King-Kok Cheung is UCLA Professor of English; author of Articulate Silences and Chinese American Literature without Borders; editor of Words Matter: Conversations with Asian American Writers, An Interethnic Companion to Asian American literature, “Seventeen Syllables”, Asian American literature: An Annotated Bibliography; and a co-editor of The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Her articles have appeared in Amerasia Journal, American Literary History, Asia Pacific, Biography, Bucknell Review, Cambridge Journal of China Studies, Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, Chinese Literature Journal, Comparative Studies of China and the West, Foreign Literature, Foreign Literature, Foreign Literature Studies, MELUS, Milton Studies, PMLA, Positions, Shakespeare Quarterly, Toronto Quarterly, Transnational Literature, and US-China Foreign Language. She has received an ACLS fellowship, a Mellon fellowship, a Fulbright award, and a resident fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford. She is the 2012-2013 Recipient of the UCLA Hoshide Teaching Award.


All are welcome




FAH - Department of English
Tel: 8822 4063
Email: fah.english@um.edu.mo