Pulitzer Prize Winner Viet Thanh Nguyen to Deliver W&M Lecture and Receive Hatsuye Yamasaki Prize

by Kate Hoving, Reves Center

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March 28, 2022

The Reves Center for International Studies, in cooperation with the Asian Centennial Committee, has announced that Viet Thanh Nguyen will deliver the 2022 McSwain-Walker Lecture.

His keynote, “Refugees, Language, and the Meaning of ‘America’,” will take place on Wednesday, April 20, 2022, at 5 p.m. at Sadler enter’s Commonwealth Auditorium.

The conference is free and open to the public, but because places are limited, members of the W&M community are invited to register for a ticket lottery, open from March 28, 2022 to April 7, 2022. Those not selected for the lottery will be placed on a waiting list for tickets. The conference will also be available on Zoom, but pre-registration is required. The conference will not be recorded.

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel “The Sympathizer” won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and many other awards. His most recent publication is the sequel to “The Sympathizer, The Committed”. Her other books are a collection of short stories, “The Refugees; Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War” (finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in General Nonfiction); and “Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America”.

He also published “Chicken of the Sea”, a children’s book co-authored with his six-year-old son, Ellison. He is the Aerol Arnold Professor of English and Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity, and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California. A recipient of grants from the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations, he is also editor-in-chief of “The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives”.

“We are truly honored to welcome Professor Nguyen to William & Mary as this year’s McSwain-Walker Lecturer,” said Teresa Longo, Executive Director of the Reves Center. “As we continue the work of the Asian Centenary, building on ‘the seeds of inclusion and belonging’, Professor Ngyugen’s work leads us to recognize the gaps in the stories we tell about our community and to tell more honorable stories.”

The ’37 Hatsuye Yamasaki Award for Visionary Leadership honors W&M’s first Asian student (and woman of color), who was a staunch campus leader when she enrolled in 1933-1937. It recognizes exemplary leadership on behalf of Asian Pacific and Southwest Asian island communities.

The Asian Centenary is a multi-year commemoration, beginning in 2021 and culminating with the launch ceremony in 2022. It not only celebrates the centenary of Pu-Kao Chen ’23 (who left Shanghai, China to become the first Asian student in university), but also of all those at W&M, past and present, who identify as Asian or of Asian descent, including those from Southwest Asia – often referred to as Middle Eastern.

“Viet Thanh Nguyen has been visionary in telling the stories of the Vietnamese American experience and exemplary in his research into the diversity of the Asian American community, so we are thrilled to also honor him with the ’37 Hatsuye Yamasaki Award. for visionary leadership during his visit to William & Mary to deliver the McSwain-Walker Lecture,” said Francis Tanglao Aguas, Professor of Theater and American Studies of Asia and the Pacific Islands, Director of Global Studies and co-chair of the Asian Centenary with Deenesh Shohoni, professor of sociology.

“Nguyen’s creative and scholarly work highlights the profound importance of weaving the diverse voices of the Asian diaspora into the tapestry of the United States. We are delighted that it can reach out to the William & Mary community as a landmark Asian Centenary event as part of our partnership with the Reves Center.

The annual McSwain-Walker Lecture brings renowned scholars, artists, analysts, and other public figures to William & Mary to talk about topics related to how other countries and cultures interact with the United States, and how the United States interacts with them. Previous speakers include Haben Girma, Swedish Ambassador to the United States Karin Olofsdotter and anti-human trafficking activist Mirawan “Boom” Mosby.

The Reves Center for International Studies is home to the Office of Global Education and the Office of International Students, Scholars, and Programs at William & Mary. Founded in 1989 with a gift from Wendy Reves in memory of her husband Emery, author of “The Anatomy of Peace”, the Reves Center supports and promotes the internationalization of learning, teaching, research and of community involvement at the university.

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