English Department Hires Asian American Literature Professor

Professor Joseph Jeon will join the Pomona English Department from the University of San Diego in the fall. Jeon specializes in Asian American literature and media, and will be teaching Modern American Fiction and Asian American Literary Historiography next semester.

The department plans to broaden its set of offerings by hiring Jeon for this tenure-track position, said English Department Chair Kevin Dettmar.

“It's kind of challenging to say, 'here's something we don't know anything about,' and that's a shame and we need to bring in somebody who's going to teach us about that,” Dettmar said. “We'll be adding courses to our catalog and our curriculum that take advantage of his expertise in Asian American [Studies].”

Jeon said his courses tend to focus on “issues of race, power, globalization, and visual culture,” and he said he'd like to eventually teach courses in Asian American Studies, transnational Korean/American film, and 20th Century American literature.

According to Dettmar, the department is also excited about the diversity of interests that Jeon will bring to the position.

“His interests, like a lot of ours, cut across traditional genres and media, and that seemed interesting,” Dettmar said. “He's going to make the department different in ways that we don't really know.”

Jeon said he's excited to join the innovative intellectual community that Pomona provides.

“At Pomona, I am looking forward to intense students who are committed to engaging and understanding the world in which we live,” Jeon wrote in an e-mail.

“Pomona is a wonderful place for this kind of work because it is full of people doing interesting, innovative scholarship,” he added.

Jeon explained that his interest in Asian American studies stems from his belief that Asia has begun to challenge the United States as a world power.

“Many scholars and observers believe that this conflict will define the twenty-first century. My scholarly work and teaching seek to understand how these geopolitical changes affect how we view ourselves, how we view each other, and how we parse these categories in the first place,” he said. “I'll never forget the moment during the broadcast of the opening ceremonies in Beijing when Matt Lauer, the commentator, in response to the awesome spectacle, chose the word 'intimidating' to describe it.”

“The moment seemed to signal a new era in the way in which Asia and America interact with one another,” Jeon wrote. “Asian American Studies seems to me a privileged vantage point from which to view these interactions.”

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