Heidi Kim


Greenlaw 444
(919) 962-4042

Co-Director of Ph.D. Job Placement

Associate Professor

My work ranges through nineteenth and twentieth-century American literature and Asian American studies. In my monograph Invisible Subjects: Asian Americans in Postwar Literature (Oxford UP, 2016), I read texts by twentieth-century canonical American authors of different ethnicities through recent advances in Asian American studies and historiography. This critical lens allows me to interpret overlooked subtleties in the depiction of race in the American literary canon. Building on Ralph Ellison’s theories of invisibility in his famous novel Invisible Man, I show that Asian Americans demonstrate the fluidity and limitations of their available legal and social roles. I resituate several major authors (Ellison, Herman Melville, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck) amid the Asian American presence in their works and the dialogue of liberal individualism.

I have also recently published an edition of a memoir and correspondence of a Japanese American family from Hawai'i incarcerated during World War II (Taken from the Paradise Isle, UP Colorado, 2015) and have published essays on other aspects of the incarceration. Past projects have included work on Walt Whitman published in the Walt Whitman Quarterly Journal, and criticism and translation of Le Vieux Salomon, a transnational antislavery Louisiana Francophone novel from the nineteenth century (PMLA, May 2010). Currently, I am collaborating with a team of environmental and social scientists to help them shape narratives of food security in dryland west Africa, funded by an NSF grant, and working on a new monograph about illegal immigration in Cold War literature.

My teaching focuses on twentieth and twenty-first century American and comparative ethnic literature, though I also teach some contemporary British literature. I am always looking for ways to bring my students’ work into conversation with the campus and public. Some of my classes have created digital humanities exhibits of their research: see Letters from World War I, Studying Poston and The Chang and Eng Bunker Project.

Past and Current Teaching/Research Interests:

  • Twentieth-century and contemporary U.S. novel (special foci on 1950s, Faulkner, Steinbeck)
  • Antislavery literature (special focus on Caribbean/Francophone writing)
  • Walt Whitman, poetry and adaptation
  • Asian American/Asian diasporic literature
  • Immigration literature and history
  • Japanese American incarceration history (special focus on Hawai’i)
  • Twentieth-century and contemporary drama
  • Postwar British fiction and drama, especially multiethnic
  • Literature of World War I
  • Multicultural Shakespeare adaptation/production
  • Food security and environmental issues in Africa (Collaborator on NSF grant)
  • UNC historical archives

Teaching Awards

J. Carlyle Sitterson Freshman Teaching Award, 2014

CoLEAGS Faculty Mentor Award, 2016


Hire Date: 2010

Ph.D. and M.A. in English, Northwestern University
A.B. in Biochemical Sciences and Citation in French, Harvard University

Research Groups and Interests

Group VII - American Literature from 1900 to the Present