Asian-American Lit. Post Approved

Addressing the demand for ethnic studies at Harvard, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) announced the creation of a new position in the English Department on Friday: a junior Faculty member devoted to the study of Asian-American literature.

Professor of Chinese Literature Leo O. Lee, chair of the Committee on Ethnic Studies, called the move an "important step" for the future of his committee.

"Harvard does not have enough regular Faculty appointments related to ethnic studies," he said.

To fund the position, FAS has converted one of the Ethnic Studies Committee's three semester-long visiting positions to the junior Faculty post. The Committee will still administer two visiting professorships every term.

"This will provide some of the continuity that even the most distinguished visiting Faculty are not able to give," said Elizabeth Doherty, assistant dean for academic planning. "This seems like a creative and effective way of addressing the demand for more courses and Faculty in Ethnic Studies."


Lee said he hopes the new position is only the start of the restructuring of Ethnic Studies at the College.

Two pages in the 1997-98 Courses of Instruction catalog-consisting of 46 non-bracketed classes-are devoted to "courses related to themes and issues of ethnicity and race."

The current offering are "too amorphous," Lee said. "It's window dressing."

Instead, Lee proposes to hire more Faculty who specialize in multi cultural issues.

"We need more courses taught by people genuinely researching ethnic studies," he said.

Many students said they agree with Lee.

Michael Hsu '98-who worked with the Harvard Foundation's academic affairs committee last year-calls the new position a "step in the right direction," but alone only "a small inkling of a step."

"We need an undergraduate concentration with a cohesive curriculum and advising," he said.

Tin-Ming L. Hsu '00 addresses the lack of more substantial University attention to ethnic studies every Monday evening, leading a weekly discussion group through the Asian American Association (AAA) "to demonstrate the interest and scholarship in [Asian-American issues] in the absence of an ethnic studies department."

Tin-Ming Hsu said that she hopes the University will reaffirm the importance of multi cultural studies.

"I would be extremely concerned if [Harvard] felt that the inclusion of one token representative would sufficiently cover the need for increased attention toward Ethnic Studies and/or Asian American Studies," she said.

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