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Headshot of Heidi Kim in front of a tree holding books.
Heidi Kim

Heidi Kim, professor of English and comparative literature and director of UNC’s Asian American Center, has been selected for a Summer Residency at the National Humanities Center to begin work on a book about Asian American literature.

Summer residencies are four-week stays at the NHC’s Research Triangle Park facilities, where this year 38 humanities scholars from throughout the United States are given access to the center’s librarians and other resources to advance their creative projects.

Kim’s project, Asian American Literature: A Very Short Introduction, is designed to be an introductory book for general audiences or classroom use that will highlight about two dozen works of literature, the evolution of the genre over the past six decades, and common themes and concerns. It will be published as part of the Very Short Introduction series of books by Oxford University Press that seeks to provide a concise but authoritative overview of a wide range of topics.

Asian Americans are the fastest-growing demographic in the United States, and “I proposed this book because there is no short, easily digestible introduction to Asian American literature available,” said Kim. “I really thought the timing was right for one given the surge of interest in Asian American culture and communities coming out of the pandemic and the popular and critical success of Asian American literature recently, from streaming adaptations to major national prizes.”

Kim’s works include Illegal Immigrants/Model Minorities: The Cold War of Chinese American Literature (Temple University Press, 2021) and Invisible Subjects: Asian Americans in Postwar Literature (Oxford University Press, 2016). Her research and teaching cover topics in 19th- and 20th-century American literature and Asian American studies.

The National Humanities Center is the world’s only independent institute dedicated exclusively to advanced study in all areas of the humanities. Through the summer residencies program, scholars have the opportunity to experience a concentrated period of supported research and participate in an intellectual community.

“This residency has been an amazing experience and has kickstarted my project,” said Kim. “It’s such a privilege to be immersed in this scholarly environment and have these resources. I’m very grateful to the College for this opportunity.”

By Geneva Collins, College of Arts and Sciences

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