Teaching Position: Associate Professor, History Department, Ohio State University, 2004-present
Area of Research: Modern U.S. history, Asian Americans, Women, Immigration, the American West, and the 1960s.
Education: Ph.D., U.S. History with secondary field in Chinese History, Stanford University, 1998
Major Publications: Wu is the author of Doctor ‘Mom’ Chung of the Fair-Haired Bastards: The Life of a Wartime Celebrity, (University of California Press, 2005). She is currently working on “Radicals on the Road: Third World Internationalism and American Orientalism during the Viet Nam Era,” book project (advanced contract from Cornell University Press for the U.S. and the World Series, edited by Mark Bradley and Paul Kramer).
Wu is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others: “Journeys for Peace and Liberation: Third World Internationalism and Radical Orientalism during the U.S. War in Viet Nam,” special issue on “Asian American History in Transnational Perspective,” Pacific Historical Review 76:4 (November 2007): 575-584; “From OSU to Amsterdam: Transformative Learning through Community-Based Multi-Media Research,” Talking about Teaching: Essays by Members of the Ohio State University Academy of Teaching (May 2007), pp. 44-48; “‘The Ministering Angel of Chinatown:’ Missionary Uplift, Modern Medicine, and Asian American Women’s Strategies of Liminality,” Asian/Pacific Islander American Women: A Historical Anthology, ed. by Shirley Hune and Gail Nomura, (New York University Press, 2003), pp. 155-171; “Was Mom Chung a ‘Sister Lesbian’?: Asian American Gender Experimentation and Interracial Homoeroticism,” Journal of Women’s History 13:1 (Spring 2001), pp. 58-82, honorable Mention for the 2000-2001 Audre Lorde Prize, given for an outstanding article on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, and/or queer history published in English, reprinted in American Dreaming, Global Realities: Rethinking U.S. Immigration History, ed. by Donna Gabaccia and Vicki L. Ruiz (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006), pp. 379-398, will be reprinted in Unequal Sisters, 4th edition, ed. by Vicki L. Ruiz (forthcoming); “‘Loveliest Daughter of Our Ancient Cathay!’: Representations of Ethnic and Gender Identity in the Miss Chinatown U.S.A. Beauty Pageant,” Journal of Social History 31:1 (September 1997), pp. 5-31; reprinted in Business and Beauty: Commerce, Gender, and Culture in Modern America, ed. by Philip Scranton (Routledge Press, 2001), pp. 278-308, reprinted in Western Women’s Lives: Continuity and Change in the Twentieth Century, ed. by Sandra K. Schackel (University of New Mexico Press, 2003), pp. 389-426.
Awards: Wu is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Faculty Grant, Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2007-2008;
Ohio State University Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award, 2007;
College of Humanities Research Enhancement Grant, Ohio State University, 2007-2008;
Emory University Short Term Fellowship, Robert W. Woodruff Library, Atlanta, Georgia, 2006-2007;
Schlesinger Library Research Support Grant, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Boston, Massachusetts, 2006-2007;
Coca-Cola CDW Faculty Research Grants, Women’s Studies Department, Ohio State University, 2006-2007;
Organization of Chinese Americans, Columbus Chapter, Special Recognitions Award for the OSU Asian American Studies Program for the Winter 2005 series of programs: “A Month of Remembrance: Japanese American Internment in Art and History,” 2006;
Technology Enhanced Learning and Research(TELR) Professional Development Grant, Ohio State University, 2006;
Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship, Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, University of Chicago, 2005-2006;
Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization Grant to Develop a Concentration in Asian American Studies, Ohio State University Curriculum Committee of the Council on Research on Research and Graduate Studies, 2005-2006 ;
TELR Research on Research: Student-Faculty ePartnerships Grant, Ohio State University: Genna Duberstein’s documentary and website on Japanese American internment originated as part of the Month of Remembrance/Japanese American Oral history Project, 2005;
Multicultural Center (MCC) Collaborative Programming Grant for the Month of Remembrance, Ohio State University, 2005 ;
Student Affairs Diversity Enhancement Grant for the Month of Remembrance, Ohio State University, 2005;
National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, 2003;
College of Humanities Seed Grant, Ohio State University, 2002-2004;
Virginia Hull Research Award, Ohio State University, 2002-2003;
Ada Leeke Fellowship, the Margaret Chase Smith Library, 2002;
Audre Lorde Prize, Committee on Lesbian and Gay History, American Historical Association, Honorable Mention, 2002;
Ohio State University Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award, 2002;
College of Humanities Diversity Enhancement Award, Ohio State University, Special Recognition, 2000-2001;
Outstanding Teaching Award, College of Arts and Sciences, Ohio State University, Finalist, 2000-2001;
Special Research Assignment, College of Humanities, Ohio State University, 2000, 2002;
Elizabeth D. Gee Fund for Research on Women, Ohio State University, 1999-2000;
Sidney Pressey Honors Course Enrichment Grant, Ohio State University Honors Center, 1999 and 2000 ;
University Seed Grant, Ohio State University, 1999;
Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Washington University, 1997-1998, Declined;
Graduate Dissertation Fellowship Award, 1997;
A. W. Mellon Foundation Dissertation Award, 1996-1997;
Albert J. Beveridge Grant, American Historical Association, 1996-1997;
Department Fellowship, Stanford University, 1992-1996;
Graduate Research Opportunity Funds, Stanford University, 1995-1996 ;
Wu was Visiting Associate Professor, University of Chicago, Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture and History Department in 2005-2006.
I became a historian because I got arrested in college. Or, perhaps I got arrested because I believed in the power of history.
I was born in Taipei, Taiwan and immigrated with my family to Spokane, Washington when I was six years old. I helped my family run a restaurant and then a convenience store until I left to attend college at Stanford University.
When I was a sophomore, I became involved in a campaign to lobby for ethnic studies and ethnic student services. There had been a racially motivated attack against the African American theme dorm at Stanford. I thought such behavior was inappropriate, and it reminded me of the harassment and discrimination that my family experienced in the predominantly white community of Spokane. In response, I became a student activist. I worked with people of varying backgrounds to advocate for more courses that examined race and inequality. We also called for more institutional support for ethnic student service centers so that students of color might feel more at home on the college campus. I believed that if all students were exposed to the diversity of American society, they might learn to treat each other with more respect. Through meetings, petitions, rallies and eventually a protest at the president’s office which led to our arrest, we succeeded in persuading the university administration to hire the first faculties in Asian American Studies, conduct a review of the African American Studies Program, provide more funding and a full-time dean for the Chicano Student Center, and reexamine the eligibility of Native Hawaiians for affirmative action programs. I subsequently decided to major in American Studies so that I might learn more about the history, politics, and culture of the U.S. After completing an honors thesis on the 1960s social movements in San Francisco Chinatown and working at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project, I eventually enrolled in the History Ph.D. program at Stanford.
Although these events occurred almost half of my lifetime ago, they remain formative for my intellectual, political, and personal development. Both my research and teaching foreground the analysis of race, gender, class, and nationality in the study of American history. I am particularly interested how categories of social difference and inequality are constructed and intertwined. I also pay close attention to how individuals create meaningful identities and interact with their lived environments. Because my goal is to promote greater understanding of the diversity of American history, I encourage students to think about various ways to study the past and to think about the connections between knowledge gained in the classroom and their experiences in contemporary society.
My current research project is very much influenced by my background as a student activist. In “Radicals on the Road: Third World Internationalism and American Orientalism during the Vietnam Era,” I explore the travels of American peace activists who criticized the U.S. war in Viet Nam. I am particularly interested in how the experiences of being outside of the U.S. and meeting non-Americans shaped the identities and political beliefs of diverse American activists.
My first book, Doctor Mom Chung of the Fair-Haired Bastards: The Life of a Wartime Celebrity (University of California Press, 2005) is a biography of a colorful yet largely unrecognized historical figure. Dr. Margaret Chung (1889-1959) was the first known American-born Chinese female physician. She established one of the earliest Western medical clinics in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1920s. She also became a prominent celebrity and behind-the-scenes political broker during Sino-Japanese and Second World Wars. During this period, her home was the place to be in San Francisco. Soldiers, movie stars, and politicians gathered there to socialize, to show their dedication to the Allied cause, and to express their affection for their “adopted” mother. Chung’s surrogate sons numbered in the thousands and included well-known figures such as actor Ronald Reagan, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, and musician Andre Kostelanetz. Chung even used her fictive kinship network to recruit pilots for the Flying Tigers and lobby for the creation of WAVES, the U.S. women’s naval reserve. Because she never married and could not provide a “legitimate” father figure, her “sons” became known as the “Fair-Haired Bastards.” Although Chung publicly adopted a maternal identity, she experimented with her gender presentation and developed romantic relationships with other women, such as writer Elsa Gidlow and entertainer Sophie Tucker. My book capitalizes on Chung’s uniqueness to examine how American race relations, gender roles, and sexual norms shifted over the course of her lifetime.
By Judy Tzu-Chun Wu
About Judy Tzu-Chun Wu