The Reves Center for International Studies, in cooperation with the Asian Centennial Committee, has announced that Viet Thanh Nguyen will deliver the 2022 McSwain-Walker Lecture. His talk, “Refugees, Language, and the Meaning of ‘America,’" will be held Wednesday, April 20, 2022, at 5pm in Commonwealth Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public, but because seating is limited, members of the W&M community are invited to register for a ticket lottery, open from March 28, 2022 until April 7, 2022. Those not selected in the lottery will go on a waiting list for tickets. The lecture will also be available on Zoom, but pre-registration is required. The lecture will not be recorded.
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel The Sympathizer won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and numerous other awards. His most recent publication is the sequel to The Sympathizer, The Committed. His other books are a short story collection, The Refugees; Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in General Nonfiction); and Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America. He has also published Chicken of the Sea, a children’s book written in collaboration with his six-year-old son, Ellison. He is a university professor: the Aerol Arnold Chair of English, and a Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity, and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California. A recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations, he is also the editor of The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives.
“We are truly honored to welcome Professor Nguyen to William & Mary as this year’s McSwain-Walker Lecturer,” said Teresa Longo, Executive Director of the Reves Center. As we continue the work of the Asian Centennial, building on ‘the seeds of inclusion and belonging,’ Professor Ngyugen’s work moves us to recognize the gaps in the stories we tell about our community and to tell more honorable stories.”
The Hatsuye Yamasaki ‘37 Prize for Visionary Leadership honors W&M’s first female student of Asian descent (and woman of color) who was a stalwart campus leader during their enrollment in 1933-37. It recognizes exemplary leadership on behalf of the Asian Pacific Islander and South West Asian communities.
The Asian Centennial is a multi-year commemoration, beginning in 2021 and culminating with the 2022 Commencement ceremony. It celebrates not only the centennial of Pu-Kao Chen ’23 ( who left Shanghai, China, to become the university’s first Asian student), but also of all those at W&M, past and present, who identify as Asian or of Asian ancestry, including those from Southwest Asia – often referred to as the Middle East.
“Viet Thanh Nguyen has been visionary in telling the stories of the Vietnamese American experience and exemplary in his scholarship on the diverse Asian American community, so we are pleased to also honor him with the Hatsuye Yamasaki Prize ‘37 for Visionary Leadership on his visit to William & Mary to deliver the McSwain-Walker Lecture,” said Francis Tanglao Aguas, Professor of Theater and Asian & Pacific Islander American Studies, Director of Global Studies and co-chair of The Asian Centennial with Deenesh Shohoni, Professor of Sociology. “Nguyen’s creative and scholarly work highlights the deep importance of weaving the diverse voices of the Asian diaspora in the tapestry that is the United States. We are thrilled that he is able to address the William & Mary community as the hallmark event of the Asian Centennial in our partnership with the Reves Center.”
The annual McSwain-Walker lecture brings renowned scholars, artists, analysts and other notable public figures to William & Mary to speak on topics related to how other countries and cultures interact with the United States, and how the United States interacts with them. Previous lecturers include Haben Girma, Swedish Ambassador to the U.S. Karin Olofsdotter and anti-human trafficking activist Mirawan "Boom" Mosby.
The Reves Center for International Studies is the home of the Global Education Office, and the Office of International Students, Scholars, and Programs at William & Mary. Established in 1989 with a gift from Wendy Reves in memory of her husband Emery, author of The Anatomy of Peace, the Reves Center supports and promotes the internationalization of learning, teaching, research and community involvement at the university.