Chris A. Eng’s research examines how US ethnic literatures and performances chart imaginative visions that illuminate more capacious accounts of what constitutes national belonging, historical injury, and social justice.
Eng’s work investigates the productive frictions and intimacies between Asian American literatures and queer of color critique. His first book project, Extravagant Provisions: Constraint and Queer Conviviality in Asian American Camps, reckons with the perhaps unexpected pairing between the camp—as in sites of confinement—and camp aesthetics—practices of queer performative excess—within Asian American cultural productions. In tracing a genealogy of camps that have regulated the abjection of Asian bodies from the parameters of US national belonging, Extravagant Provisions simultaneously highlights a rich repertoire of Asian American camp that hyperbolizes rather than refutes tropes of foreign racialization (e.g. Oriental inscrutability, duplicity, artifice, and alienness) to improvise spaces for exuberance, luxury, and possibility under compromised circumstances of confinement.
Such research interests extend beyond this project and manifest across Eng’s writings, which have appeared in the academic journals American Quarterly, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, Journal of Asian American Studies, MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States, and Theatre Journal. He also co-edited a two-part forum for Lateral: Journal of the Cultural Studies Association, titled “Emergent Analytics Toward Alternative Humanities” (https://csalateral.org/archive/forum/alt-humanities-forum/). Forthcoming publications include book chapters on extravagance and kitsch in the edited volumes Asian American Literature in Transition, 1965-1995 and Q&A: Queer in Asian America: Voices in the 21st Century. His GLQ article on rimming and bottomhood in Justin Chin’s poetry stems from his second book project, which follows how the deviant figure of the “angry ethnic fag” in queer of color cultural productions deploys shame and anger toward a politics of dis-respectability that radically interrogates and re-imagines dominant LGBTQ agendas. Collectively, his intellectual research elucidates how cultural works that revel in the ostensibly silly, irreverent, and frivolous can destabilize moralistic values of respectability and normativity.
At WashU, Eng is also an Affiliated Faculty for the minor in Asian American Studies. In the English department, he looks forward to offering courses such as “American Dreams, American Nightmares,” “Queer Youth,” “Introduction to Asian American Literature,” “Gender & Sexuality in Asian American Literature,” and “Queer of Color Writers.” His graduate teaching and advising span the fields of American studies, critical ethnic studies, cultural studies, gender and sexuality studies, performance studies, as well as theorizations of affect, diaspora, empire, and post45 American literature. Beyond the campus, he is involved in professional academic organizations, serving on the Minority Scholars’ Committee of the American Studies Association, the Board of the Association for Asian American Studies, and previously on the Delegate Assembly of the Modern Language Association. He was formerly a Chancellor’s Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the Department of Asian American Studies at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His work has been recognized by the WW (formerly Woodrow Wilson) Foundation through a 2020 Career Enhancement Fellowship for Junior Faculty.