Sharon Tran

Assistant Professor, English

“My approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion is informed by my research and teaching interests in multiethnic American literary studies, critical race studies, gender studies, and disability studies. These fields are deeply invested in exploring questions of power and social justice and teach us the importance of fostering intersectional coalitions to effect change and dismantle dominant ways of viewing, knowing, and being in the world.

As a scholar, I analyze works by contemporary writers and artists of color for how they help render visible enduring forms of structural violence and inequality and allow us to theorize new, more sustainable, live-giving structures of social relation. I recently published an article in the feminist studies journal Signs titled “The Delightfully Scatological Humor of Ali Wong: Cringe Comedy and Neoliberal Maternal Discourse.” The essay examines how the Asian American stand-up comedienne Ali Wong subverts neoliberalism’s biopolitics of reproductive respectability by deploying cringeworthy poop and pussy jokes that redirect the cringe from the usual individual, feminized subject/object of humiliation to systems of power and oppression. My current book project, Asian Girlhood in the Shadows of U.S. Empire, develops Asian girlhood as a critical analytic and methodological lens for exploring questions of race, gender, and empire. This book demonstrates how the minor literatures and cultures of Asian girlhood provide generative grounds for theorizing new models of subjectivity and agency that disrupt the adult-child dichotomy that structures and underpins modern imperial logics of domination. I am honored to have been awarded the 2021-2022 Career Enhancement Fellowship by the Institute for Citizens & Scholars in support of my research and broader commitment to eradicating racial disparities in higher education.

The classroom is the primary space where I create access and amplify the voices of minority communities. My teaching philosophy is informed by an affectively engaged antiracist and feminist pedagogy. I believe that teaching students how to read and write with careful attention to details, forms of difference, and historical contexts is the first step in teaching them the care necessary to grapple with the diverse minority perspectives they confront in literary works as well as their daily lives. At UMBC, I have taught courses on early American literature, contemporary American literature, disability studies, and science and speculative fiction. Regardless of the topic, I design all of my courses with an eye to the margin, centering multiethnic and global literatures that invite students to explore questions of power and to think critically about the intersections between race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability.

As the daughter of Vietnamese refugees and the first person in my family to obtain a Ph.D., I have personally experienced how higher education can be deeply alienating and also profoundly transformative and empowering. These experiences fuel my commitment to fostering more forms of institutional access and support for minority communities in my various capacities as co-leader of the Disability Studies Faculty Working Group and as a member of the Gender + Women’s Studies Coordinating Committee, the Women’s Center Advisory Board, and the Asian and Asian American Faculty and Staff Council.”