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Prominent English scholar Yunte Huang will kick off the UT Humanities Center‘s fourth annual distinguished lecture series on September 21 with a look at the legacy of racial imagination as it relates to the American cultural experience.

Yunte_HuangHuang, an English professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, will speak at 3:30 p.m. in the Lindsay Young Auditorium of the John C. Hodges Library.

His lecture, which is free and open to the public, is titled “Charlie Chan and Yellowface.” Huang will track the iconic character of Charlie Chan from his real beginnings as a cowboy in Hawaii to his reinvention as a Hollywood film sleuth played by white actors.

As a preview to Huang’s lecture, the Cinema Studies program will screen a double feature of Charlie Chan films, Black Camel (1931) and Charlie Chan in Shanghai (1935), at 7:00 p.m. on September 16 in the Lindsay Young Auditorium of the John C. Hodges Library. Huang will discuss the featured films in his lecture.

Yunte Huang taught himself English by listening to Voice of America broadcasts in a small village in eastern China in the 1980s. After graduating in 1991 from Peking University with a degree in English, he traveled to the U.S., where he was accepted into the doctoral program in English at the State University of New York—Buffalo. Since earning his doctorate in 1999, Huang has enjoyed a successful career in the literary world, inside and out of the academy. Huang’s scholarly work in poetry, translation, modernism, and what he refers to as the “trans-Pacific imagination” has been lauded, most recently, by the Guggenheim Foundation, which awarded him a fellowship in the creative arts.

His 2010 book Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History won the Edgar Award and was a finalist for the National Critics Circle Award, as well as being named a New York Times Notable Book. In 2014 he was awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. Currently, he is working on a new book about the original nineteenth-century Siamese twins.

Huang is one of ten UT Humanities Center Visiting Scholars who will be speaking this year. Although their topics have yet to be announced, the remaining guest speakers in the lecture series include:

October 22—Michele Salzman, professor of history, University of California, Riverside

November 9—Juliet Walker, professor of history and founder/director of the Center for Black Business History, Entrepreneurship, and Technology, University of Texas, Austin

January 14—Martin Kern, Greg and Joanna Zeluck Professor in Asian Studies, Princeton University

February 11—Akeel Bilgrami, Sidney Morgenbesser Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University

February 22—Daniel O’Quinn, professor, School of English and Theatre, University of Guelph

March 21—Kenneth Pomeranz, University Professor of History, University of Chicago

March 28—Helmut Reimitz, professor of history, Princeton University

April 7—John Bryant, professor of English, Hofstra University

April 18—Barbara Savage, Geraldine Segal Professor of American Social Thought, Department of Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania



Joan Murray (865-974-4222,