Cynthia Wu

Cynthia Wu

Professor, Gender Studies

Professor, Asian American Studies

Affiliate Faculty, Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society


  • Ph.D., American Culture, University of Michigan, 2004
  • M.A., English, University of Michigan, 1997
  • A.B., English and Feminist and Gender Studies (minor), Bryn Mawr College, 1995

About Cynthia Wu

I am an interdisciplinary scholar with intellectual origins in literary/cultural criticism.  My work focuses on how racialized masculinities are produced through investments in physical or psychosocial difference, queerness, and non-normative affiliations.  My first two monographs, Chang and Eng Reconnected: The Original Siamese Twins in American Literature and Culture and Sticky Rice: A Politics of Intraracial Desire, examine Asian American men’s unexpected intimacies in the face of pressures that dictate conformity, respectability, and upward economic mobility.  

I have two book projects in progress—one on the U.S. military in the Asian American imagination and the other on the racial logics of copper as raw material, commodity, currency, element, toxin, symbol, object, and thing.  An excerpt from the former, which received the Florence Howe Award from Modern Language Association, appears in Signs, and an excerpt from the latter appears in the anthology, Asian American Literature in Transition.   

From 2018-2023, I directed the new Program in Race, Migration, and Indigeneity (RMI) at Indiana University.  The interdisciplinary program houses Asian American Studies, Latino Studies, and Native American and Indigenous Studies.  It creates dynamic curricular and programmatic synergies among them while respecting the autonomy of each.  RMI emphasizes the importance of geopolitical processes while not erasing the context of geographical histories.  As part of my role, I worked closely with the directors of each constitutive program, the chairs of departments where our faculty are housed, the deans in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the directors of other units at the university such as the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society (where I also serve on the advisory board), the American Indian Studies Research Institute, and the College Arts and Humanities Institute.  I also worked with student services personnel at the Asian Culture Center, the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center, and La Casa.  During my term, RMI cleared its final stage of approval for new programs, cluster-hired four tenure-track or tenured faculty, and hosted two ACLS postdoctoral fellows.  

I am a 2023 recipient of the Indiana University Trustees Teaching Award.  For me, the best part of this profession is connecting with people who are learning and witnessing their sense of wonder.  I believe that all of us, no matter how many other duties we take on, should always allow these experiences to guide our decisions.