My scholarship and teaching lie at the intersection of several subfields: postcolonial literary and cultural studies; spatial theory and the urban humanities; the global Cold War; transpacific migration; and comparative studies of political modernity in Asia. In particular, my research has examined postcolonial formations (urban, cultural, political) that have often been deemed marginal or “aberrant” in relation to Euro-America. With a degree in architecture prior to my doctoral training, training in several Asian languages, and a longstanding interest in Marxism and political economy, I bring an interdisciplinary, materialist and historically situated approach to my research and teaching.
My first book, The New Asian City: Three-dimensional Fictions of Space and Urban Form (Minnesota UP, 2011), is an interdisciplinary study of three so-called “Asian Tiger” metropolises, Singapore, Seoul and Taipei, from the 1920s to 1980s. Reading novels, short fiction, poetry and film alongside transformations in the built environment, I argue that these cities—and the forms, images, memories, and psychic investments around them—must be understood in terms of intersecting (post)colonial histories, nationalist desires, new laboring subjectivities, and the fault lines of the Cold War. My second monograph Cold War Reckonings: Authoritarianism and the Genres of Decolonization (Fordham UP, 2021) explores the way the global Cold War shaped both political power and cultural forms of decolonization. By attending to the political, historical and aesthetic conjunctions of a body of inter- Asian literary and filmic texts, it traces a particular genealogy of “free world” authoritarianism that has often been overlooked. The book received an honorable mention for the ACLA’s René Wellek Prize (for outstanding book in comparative literature), and an honorable mention for the MLA’s James Russell Lowell Prize (for outstanding literary or linguistic study). I have also had the pleasure of co-editing two volumes: The Postcolonial Contemporary: Political Imaginaries for the Global Present (Fordham UP, 2018), with Gary Wilder, is a collection that thinks broadly and self-reflexively about the project of postcolonial studies; and The Cambridge Companion to the City and World Literature (2023), with Ato Quayson, examines the role of cities in conceptualizations of world literature. My research has been supported by the NEH, NYU’s Center for the Humanities and the Korea Foundation; I have been a Visiting Fellow at CUNY Graduate Center’s Committee for Globalization and Social Change, and at the University of Melbourne.
My teaching at the undergraduate level includes courses on postcolonial literature and theory, theories and practices of liberation, Literatures in English IV and English 101. Recent graduate seminars have included “Cultures of the Cold War” (co-taught with Professor Patrick Deer), "Global Marxisms", “Cold War/Postcolonial,” and “Literary Dictatorships.” A firm believer in the importance of community for research and learning, I am Faculty Co-convener for two of the department’s graduate working groups: the Postcolonial, Race and Diaspora Studies Colloquium and the Marxism Working group, which meet regularly for scholarly exchange and conviviality.
At NYU, I am currently Director of the MA in English, Deputy Chair of English, and Faculty Liaison to NYU’s study abroad site in Sydney. Beyond NYU, I am an elected member of the MLA’s Delegate Assembly (2022-2025) and serve as Program Chair for the American Comparative Literature Association (2023-2026).