Berkeley English Faculty

Hertha D. Sweet Wong

Hertha D. Sweet Wong

Professor and Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities

423 Wheeler Hall
By appointment
hertha@berkeley.edu


Professional Statement

Hertha D. Sweet Wong is Professor of English and Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities. She writes about and teaches autobiography, Native American literatures, ethnic American literatures, and visual studies. Her most recent book is Picturing Identity: Contemporary American Autobiography in Image and Text (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2018). Combining approaches from autobiography studies and visual studies, she argues that grappling with the breakdown of identity and representation, late 20th-century writers and artists experiment with innovative interart autobiographical forms in an attempt to challenge and convey ever contingent and shifting identities.The project examines the vexed topic of late 20th-century American subjectivity, shaped by history, culture, place, and community, as it is represented in a variety of image-text forms: story quilts, artists' books, comic books, experimental autobiographies, word paintings, illustrated memoirs, and photo-auto/biographies. Such visual-verbal self-narrations provide a formal interart focus for examining questions about the possibilities of self-representation and self-narration, the boundaries of life writing, and the relationship between image and text.

She is also the author of Sending My Heart Back Across the Years: Tradition and Innovation in Native American Autobiography (Oxford UP, 1992) as well as numerous articles on Native American literatures, autobiography, visual culture, and environmental non-fiction. She is editor of Louise Erdrich’s “Love Medicine”:  A Casebook (Oxford UP, 2000). With Jana Sequoya Magdaleno and Lauren Stuart Muller, she is co-editor of Reckonings: Contemporary Short Fiction by Native American Women (Oxford UP, 2008) and with John Elder, co-editor of Family of Earth and Sky: Indigenous Tales of Nature from around the World (Beacon, 1994).

 


Books
Picturing Identity: Contemporary American Autobiography in Image and Text
Picturing Identity: Contemporary American Autobiography in Image and Text

Picturing Identity examines the intersection of writing and visual art in the autobiographical work of eight 20th and 21st-century American writers and artists–including Maus comic book author Art Spiegelman, story quilt artist Faith Ringgold, Dictée....(read more)

Sending My Heart Back Across the Years: Tradition and Innovation in Native American Autobiography
Sending My Heart Back Across the Years: Tradition and Innovation in Native American Autobiography

A study of Native American forms of self-representation and self-narration from pictographic stories of pre-contact times, through as-told-to autobiographies, to contemporary written memoirs. ....(read more)

Reckonings: Contemporary Short Fiction by Native American Women
Reckonings: Contemporary Short Fiction by Native American Women

The fifteen Native women writers in Reckonings document transgenerational trauma, yet they also celebrate survival. Their stories are vital testaments of our times. Unlike most anthologies that present a single story from many writers, this volume o....(read more)


Selected Publications and Papers Delivered

CONFERENCE PAPERS
“Trauma, Self-Reflexivity, and Memory in Gabriele Schwab’s Haunting Legacies.”  Presented to the International Association for Philosophy and Literature (IAPL) Conference, National University of Singapore, Singapore, June 3-9, 2013.

 

“Memory as Endlessly Deferred Return in Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee.”  Presented to Rethinking the Humanities and Social Sciences Annual Conference:  “The Politics of Memory.”  University of Zadar, Croatia, Sept. 3-9, 2012.

 

“Countering Visual Regimes:  History, Place, and Subjectivity in the Work of Hachivi Edgar Heap of Birds.”  Presented to the 26th Annual MELUS (Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States) Conference and the 8th Conference of the United States Association for Commonwealth Literatures and Languages Studies, San Jose, CA, April 19-22, 2012.

 

“Reframing the Photographic Archive at Hampton Institute:  Carrie Mae Weems and Native/African American Visual Histories.”  Revised Paper.  Presented to the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies (INCS) Conference:  “Picturing the Nineteenth Century,” Lexington, KY, Mar. 22-25, 2012.

 

“Reframing the Photographic Archive at Hampton Institute:  Carrie Mae Weems’ Artistic Engagement with Native/African American Visual Histories.”  Presented to the International American Studies Group’s “Seeing the U.S. Through Visual and Material Culture” Conference, Giverny, France, May 30-June 4, 2010.

 

“Native and African American Confluences:  Carrie Mae Weems’ The Hampton Project.”  Presented to the American Literature Association Annual Conference, Boston, May 21-24, 2009.

 

“Autobiographical Comix:  The Racialized Subject in Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese.”  Presented to American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Albuquerque, NM, October 16-19, 2008.

 

“Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese, an Autobiography in Comic Form,” 3rd Annual American Studies International Consortium:  “The United States in the World/The World in the United States,” Bancroft Hotel, Berkeley, CA, June 19-21, 2008.     


Current Research

She continues to work on visual narratives, focusing on writers and artists' autobiographical expressions and political interventions in image and text. Her essay, "Indigenous Lives, Visual Narratives," will be included in The Cambridge History of Native American Literature edited by Melanie Benson Taylor and forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. She is finalizing an essay on select works of Allan DeSouza and First Nations Kent Monkman, revising an essay on Gene Yang's American Born Chinese, and pondering how to construct her own autobiographical exploration.


Recent English Courses Taught
fall, 2019

24/2

Sophomore Seminar: Here Here in Tommy Orange's There There

fall, 2018

24/4

Freshman Seminar: Graphic Journalism: Reading Joe Sacco’s Palestine

125E/1

The Contemporary Novel: The Latest Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novels

125E/101 -- discussion section

Rodriguez, Maia Yvette Awi

125E/102 -- discussion section

Rodriguez, Maia Yvette Awi

125E/103 -- discussion section

Su, Amanda Jennifer

125E/104 -- discussion section

Su, Amanda Jennifer

125E/105 -- discussion section

Gold, Thea

spring, 2018

125E/1

The Contemporary Novel: The Latest Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novels

125E/101 -- discussion section

Kaletzky, Marianne

125E/102 -- discussion section

Kaletzky, Marianne

125E/103 -- discussion section

D'Silva, Eliot

125E/104 -- discussion section

D'Silva, Eliot

fall, 2017

24/1

Freshman Seminar: Reading Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass

spring, 2017

165/1

Special Topics: The Graphic Memoir