current research


I am currently at work on a book project, “Serious Play: Asian Americans and the Gamification of Race,” which uses games as both literal and metaphorical structures to provide a fresh perspective on Asian American texts and cultural histories, revealing the underlying centrality of play, chance, humor, and fantasy to the identities and experiences of a racialized community often thought of solely in the sobering, limiting terms of labor and economic productivity. Juxtaposing American culture’s abiding fascination with gameplay against its historical framing of race as the nation’s defining asset as well as its greatest liability, I demonstrate how the possibility of transforming identity into an object of play has been seized upon by both Asian American authors and game designers throughout the postwar years. Whether it be the immersive role-playing of Maxine Hong Kingston’s narrator in The Woman Warrior, the convivial mahjongg club at the center of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, or the Oulipian irreverence of John Yau’s poetry, the games which one finds everywhere in Asian American literature are, I contend, where the racialized subject most clearly defines herself, and is defined, as an Asian American.