Frances Tran is a second-year doctoral candidate in the English Program at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her current research examines how affect and aesthetics enable us to reimagine the spatio-temporal dimensions of globalization and thus to envision alternative transnational and transcultural connections across categories of difference. She is especially interested in how Asian American cultural productions allow us to imagine new political possibilities for solidarity in an age of globalization. Her other research interests include Asian American and Asian diasporic studies, discourses of transnationalism and postidentity, affect studies, and ecocriticism.
Participating as a Mellon Student Fellow on the Committee on Globalization and Social Change has been an invaluable experience. The engaging, incisive discussions during our weekly meetings have given me a unique taste of the creativity, critical depth, and sheer messiness of a truly interdisciplinary environment. Interacting with both professors and students whose research and theoretical backgrounds cross a range of fields has broadened my own thinking and practice in English and Asian American studies. The committee’s dedication to bringing in outside speakers to contribute to our ongoing conversations has also allowed me to interact with some of the figures who have been so influential in my own research and scholarship, including Lisa Lowe, Achille Mbembe, Wendy Brown, and Slavoj Zizek, among others. But what continues to surprise me, even as a third-year fellow, is the openness of engagement, the genuine enthusiasm to hear and respect what each person has to say, regardless of rank. I still remember joining the committee as a first-year student and being pushed to present my work. It was both an intimidating and wonderful opportunity for someone who had a lot of insecurities about her research. The sincere interest and generous feedback I received have been incredibly useful, not only for revising that specific paper, but also in terms of thinking about how to articulate my work to an audience not situated immediately in my field. I will always be grateful to the Mellon Fellowship for allowing me to participate in the committee and showing me what a generative, critical space actually looks and feels like.