Title

Talk-Story with Maxine Hong Kingston This Thursday

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-1-2011

Abstract

Talk-Story with Maxine Hong Kingston This Thursday

Thursday, March 31 Merrifield 300

The Women Studies Program is pleased to join the Languages Department (Chinese) in hosting acclaimed feminist author Maxine Hong Kingston on Thursday, March 31 in Merrifield 300. Kingston will speak to the Feminist Theory and Chinese Literature in Translation classes; her visit is open to the public.

The Woman Warrior is perhaps Kingston’s most popular book, published in 1976 in the heyday of the Second Wave feminist and civil rights movements, which helped to establish the book as an international best-seller and a frequently-assigned textbook for many English, Women Studies, History, and social sciences classes; it also won the National Book Critics Circle Award. It has been hailed by some as the initiator of an Asian-American publishing phenomenon. With the success of The Woman Warrior, Kingston joined Toni Morrison as one of the best-recognized writers in the United States and abroad.

“The call of the Second Wave women’s movement to women to achieve ‘voice’ by writing and speaking their ‘stories’ in the face of ‘silencing’ oppression was never answered better than in The Woman Warrior,” according to UND Women Studies Director, Kathleen Dixon. “Now, Kingston is involved in helping U.S. veterans tell their stories.” Seven years ago, Kingston marched against the U.S. war in Iraq with the Third Wave feminist organization Code Pink. She was arrested during the peaceful protest along with other noted feminist writers Alice Walker and Susan Griffin.

Literary critics have noted her contribution to “the identity plot” in post WWII American fiction, which in turn helped to foment one of the most important stages in the Second Wave feminist movement, that is, the turn to “identity politics.” The greatest controversy of this period of Kingston’s work centered on criticism by the Chinese-American novelist Frank Chin, who accused her of producing an inauthentic Chinese-American identity, one that favored stereotypes already prevalent in the larger U.S. culture. But Kingston’s work has been championed by many Asian-American and feminist groups.

Kingston will also be a featured author at the 42nd Annual Writers Conference.

Maxine Hong Kingston, is the daughter of Chinese immigrants who operated a gambling house in the 1940s, when Maxine was born, and then a laundry where Kingston and her brothers and sisters toiled long hours. Kingston graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1962 from the University of California at Berkeley, and, in the same year, married actor Earll Kingston, whom she had met in an English course. The couple has one son, Joseph, who was born in 1963. They were active in antiwar activities in Berkeley, but in 1967 the Kingstons headed for Japan to escape the increasing violence and drugs of the antiwar movement. They settled instead in Hawai‘i, where Kingston took various teaching posts. They returned to California seventeen years later, and Kingston resumed teaching writing at the University of California, Berkeley. While in Hawai‘i, Kingston wrote her first two books. The Woman Warrior, her first book, was published in 1976 and won the National Book Critics Circle Award, making her a literary celebrity at age thirty-six. Her second book, China Men, earned the National Book Award. Still today, both books are widely taught in literature and other classes. Kingston has earned additional awards, including the PEN West Award for Fiction for Tripmaster Monkey, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, and the National Humanities Medal, which was conferred by President Clinton, as well as the title "Living Treasure of Hawai‘i" bestowed by a Honolulu Buddhist church. Her most recent books include a collection of essays, Hawai‘i One Summer, and latest novel, The Fifth Book of Peace. Kingston is currently Senior Lecturer Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley.

Other Upcoming Women Studies Events

  • March 31 Maxine Hong Kingston visit to Women Studies 480 Feminist Theory
  • April 16 Women Studies Retreat, Hilton Garden Inn, 9-4:30
  • April 29 Women Studies Essay Contest winners announced
  • April 30 Women Studies Co-Sponsors the Ten Percent Society Conference, “Stand Up, Speak Out”
  • July 31 Deadline for submissions for the special issue of North Dakota Quarterly, “Diversity and its Discontents”

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