Cynthia Wu

Cynthia Wu

Professor, Gender Studies

Professor, Asian American Studies

Director of Graduate Studies, Gender Studies

Director, Race, Migration, and Indigeneity

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

Cynthia Wu’s work focuses on how racialized masculinities are produced through investments in physical or psychosocial difference, queerness, and non-normative affiliations. Her first two monographs, Chang and Eng Reconnected and Sticky Rice, establish this research trajectory by examining Asian American men’s unsettling intimacies in the face of pressures that dictate conformity, respectability, and upward economic mobility. Currently, she is at work on two book projects—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 appears in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, and an excerpt from the latter is forthcoming in the anthology Asian American Literature in Transition.

In addition to her scholarship, Wu has written about academic life, labor, and capitalism for the Avidly channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Chronicle of Higher EducationInside Higher Ed, and several other venues. She has held leadership positions in the Association for Asian American Studies, the Modern Language Association, and the Society for Disability Studies. She has served on the editorial boards of Disability Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Asian American Studies, the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, and Text and Performance Quarterly. Before joining Indiana University, Wu taught for 10 years at SUNY Buffalo, where she received the Milton Plesur Excellence in Teaching Award and other recognitions for her work with students.

In the past, Wu has worked as contingent faculty, student affairs staff, and academic support staff. Prior to academia, she did HIV outreach in Asian American communities and cultural history museum work. She got her start teaching at New Jersey SEEDS, a program that provides an accelerated curriculum for high-achieving students at underfunded public schools.

Selected publications


Sticky Rice: A Politics of Intraracial Desire. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2018.

Chang and Eng Reconnected: The Original Siamese Twins in American Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2012. (Honorable mention, Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize, American Studies Association)

Edited Volumes

Jina B. Kim, Joshua Kupetz, Crystal Lie, and Cynthia Wu, eds. and intro. Sex Identity Aesthetics: The Work of Tobin Siebers and Disability Studies. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press (under contract).

Cynthia Wu and Kritika Agarwal, eds. and intro. Special issue. “Debt: The Cultural Logics of Owing/Owning.” Journal of Asian American Studies 18.1 (February 2015).

Jennifer C. James and Cynthia Wu, eds. and intro. Special issue. “Race, Ethnicity, Disability, and Literature: Intersections and Interventions.” MELUS 31.3 (Fall 2006).

Recent Articles and Book Chapters, Refereed

“Saum Song Bo on the Statue of Liberty: A Protest Against U.S. Chinese Exclusion and French Imperialism.” In Asian American Literature in Transition, 1850-1930. Eds. Josephine Lee and Julia H. Lee. New York: Cambridge University Press (forthcoming).

“Asian American Studies and the Contemporary University.” In Teaching Asian America: Politics, Pedagogy, and Practice. Eds. Jennifer Hayashida and Cathy Schlund-Vials. Urbana: University of Illinois Press (forthcoming).

“Asian International Students at U.S. Universities in the Post-2008 Collapse Era.” In Flashpoints for Asian American Studies. Ed. Cathy Schlund-Vials. New York: Fordham University Press, 2017. 205-219.

“A Comparative Analysis of Indigenous Displacement and the World War II Japanese American Internment.” Amerasia Journal 42.1 (2016): 1-15.

“Distanced from Dirt: Transnational Vietnam in the U.S. South.” south: a scholarly journal 48.2 (Spring 2016): 170-183.

Cathy Schlund-Vials and Cynthia Wu. “Rethinking Embodiment and Hybridity: Mixed Race, Adoptee, and Disabled Subjectivities.” In The Cambridge Companion to Asian American Literature. Eds. Daniel Y. Kim and Crystal Parikh. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. 197-211.

“Asian American Feminism’s Alliances with Men: Reading Hisaye Yamamoto’s ‘Seventeen Syllables’ as an Antidraft Tract.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 39.2 (Winter 2014): 323-339. (Co-winner, Florence Howe Award, Modern Language Association)

“Synchronic/Diachronic: Flexible Historicities in Hisaye Yamamoto’s Nonfiction.” LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory 25.1 (Winter 2014): 57-72.

“‘Give Me the Stump Which Gives You the Right to Hold Your Head High’: A Homoerotics of Disability in Asian Americanist Critique.” Amerasia Journal 39.1 (2013): 3-16.