2023 Gryphon Lecture

Sohyun An

Sohyun An, professor of social studies education at Kennesaw State University, will present "Using Asian American Children's Literature as a Tool to Resist America's Long History of Anti-Asian Violence."

Abstract: Asian immigrants have been racialized as "perpetual foreigners"—an unassimilable "yellow peril"—since their earliest arrival in the United States. This racialization has manifested in discrimination, hate crimes, and state-sanctioned violence during periods of economic, military, and public health crises. This lecture will examine the upsurge of anti-Asian violence during the COVID-19 pandemic within this context and explore the significance of Illinois' TEAACH Act (implemented in fall 2022) as a tool in the collective fight to stop anti-Asian violence, especially among youth. Building on scholarship addressing both K-12 history curriculum and Asian American children's literature, the lecture suggests ways to use books for young people as a pedagogical tool for critical Asian American studies in K-12 schools.

Sohyun An received her PhD degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and BS and MS degrees in social studies education from Seoul National University in South Korea. As a former high school social studies teacher, An is currently a teacher educator of elementary social studies education. Her teaching and research center on anti-racist curriculum and pedagogy and teaching about Asian American history. Her current project investigates anti-racist pedagogy in elementary classrooms, research funded by the Spencer Foundation. She has also contributed to Smithsonian and PBS curriculum projects regarding Asian American history education. In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and the upsurge of anti-Asian hate and violence, An has been interviewed and had her teaching and research cited in many media outlets, including CNN, Time, New York Times, Reuters, and Vox. Her honors include the Distinguished Professor Award from Kennesaw State University (2022) and Distinguished Researcher Award from the American Educational Research Association's Research on the Education of Asian and Pacific Americans SIG.  

Register for the Zoom session

This event is sponsored by the Center for Children's Books