Ph.D, University of California-Berkeley
Professor, Department of English
49 McCosh Hall
Professor Anne Anlin Cheng specializes in race studies and psychoanalytic theory and works in 20th-century American literature, with special focus on Asian American and African American literature. She is the author of The Melancholy of Race: Assimilation, Psychoanalysis, and Hidden Grief, which examines the notion of racial grief at the intersection of culture, history, and law. From Toni Morrison to Maxine Hong Kingston, from Ralph Ellison to David Henry Hwang, from Anna Deavere Smith to Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, The Melancholy of Race studies how writers and artists of color contribute to our understanding of racial injury – not by simply reflecting that fact but by exploring the complex etiology of racism and the education of desire that it instills in both dominant and minority subjects. Her new book Second Skin: Josephine Baker and the Modern Surface, traces the story of the unexpected intimacy between the invention of a modernist style and the theatricalization of black skin at the turn of the twentieth century. This study situates Baker’s famous nakedness within larger philosophic and aesthetic crisis about the ideal of the “pure surface” that crystallized at the convergence of modern art, architecture, machinery, and philosophy. She is currently working on a new project on the discourse of "shine" in early century philosophy and aesthetics.
Cheng received her B.A. in English and Creative Writing at Princeton, her Masters in English and Creative Writing from Stanford University, and her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from University of California at Berkeley. Prior to coming back to Princeton, She taught a wide range of courses at Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley, on topics such as literary theory, cultural studies, race and gender studies, psychoanalytic theory, postcolonial theory, film studies, poetry and poetics. She is the founder and organizer of the conversation series Critical Encounters, aimed to encourage dialogue across diverse disciplines on shared topics of social justice.
- Second Skin: Josephine Baker and the Modern Surface (Oxford University Press, 2010)
- The Melancholy of Race: Assimilation, Psychoanalysis, and Hidden Grief (Oxford University Press, 2000)
- “Keyword: Ornament.” Global Modernism. Eds. Eric Hayot and Rebecca Walkowitz. Columbia University Press. (forthcoming)
- “Keyword: Modernism.” A Companion To Asian American Literature and Culture. Ed. Rachel Lee. Routledge. (forthcoming)
- “Shine: On Race, Glamour, and the Modern,” Periodical of the Modern Language Association (2011)
- “Ralph Ellison and the Democratic Imagination,” Journal of Law, Philosophy, and Culture (2011)
- “Josephine Baker: Taste, Psychoanalysis, and the Colonial Fetish,” Psychoanalytic Quarterly (2006)
- “Passing, Natural Selection, and Love’s Failure: Ethics of Survival from Chang-Rae Lee to Jacques Lacan,” American Literary History (2005)