Author Karen Tei Yamashita to Deliver Annual Patricia Eliet Memorial Lecture

Karen Yei YamashitaThe Department of English at California State University, Dominguez Hills will host the annual Patricia Eliet Memorial Lecture featuring novelist Karen Tei Yamashita as the guest speaker, on Wednesday, April 12 at 7 p.m. in the Loker Student Union Ballroom. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Yamashita is the author of Through the Arc of the Rain Forest, Brazil-Maru, Tropic of Orange, Circle K Cycles, and I HotelTropic of Orange was voted among the best novels about Los Angeles in an LA Weekly reader poll, while I Hotel was selected as a finalist for the National Book Award. Yamashita has been a US Artists Ford Foundation Fellow and co-holder of the University of California Presidential Chair for Feminist & Critical Race & Ethnic Studies. She is currently professor of literature and creative writing at UC Santa Cruz, where she received the Chancellor’s Award for Diversity in 2009.

As part of the university’s series of programs this year that commemorate the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, Yamashita’s lecture also will address the local history of Japanese American incarceration during World War II. Her novel Tropic of Orange explores the legacy of internment in the greater Los Angeles region primarily through the characters of aging homeless sansei Manzanar Murakami and his granddaughter Emi, an executive for a local broadcast TV news station.

Patricia Eliet Memorial Lecture posterScholar Chiyo Crawford argues: “Japanese American incarceration haunts Yamashita’s characters and readers throughout the book. Internment’s history of land theft and displacement, severe degradation of living and working conditions, and long- term psychological trauma…constitute important environmental justice issues for Manzanar and Emi, issues which, in a Japanese American context, have been and continue to be largely ignored.” Through this timely event, the English Department hopes to engage our students and the larger campus community in a critical dialogue about these and related issues.

The lecture series honors former CSU Dominguez Hills Professor of English Patricia Eliet, who taught at the university from 1969 to 1990. It is sponsored by the Department of English, the College of Arts and Humanities, and Janet Mebane in memory of her mother Geraldine E. Howey, who earned her B.A. in English from CSUDH in 1971.