The Joanne T. Dempsey Memorial Lecture Series: Joseph Jonghyun Jeon

The Joanne T. Dempsey Memorial Lecture Series: Joseph Jonghyun Jeon

The Joanne T. Dempsey Memorial Lecture Series: Joseph Jonghyun Jeon

This event occurred in the past

Date and Time

  • Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.


Mother Rosalie Hill Hall, Warren Auditorium

5998 Alcala Park San Diego, CA 92110




The biannual Joanne T. Dempsey Memorial Lecture Series for 2014 is pleased to announce speaker Joseph Jonghyun Jeon. Dr. Jeon's lecture, "Breakfast at Kuniyoshi's: Degenerative Genealogy and Postracial Racial Form" will be held on Thursday, April 24, 2014, at 7 p.m. in Warren Auditorium in Mother Rosalie Hill Hall (SOLES). A dessert reception will follow the lecture. The event is free and open to the public.

Viewers have long found Mickey Rooney’s portrayal of I.Y. Yuniyoshi in Blake Edwards’ 1962 adaptation of Truman Capote’s 1958 novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s offensive for its yellowface caricature and stereotypical excesses. What most do not realize, however, is that Capote's character was based on Yasuo Kuniyoshi (pictured, right), one of the most famous painters in the United States for the first half of the 20th century, whose reputation vanished rapidly in the second half of the twentieth century so dramatically that, until some recent scholarship, he was scarcely remembered.

Through an analysis of a series of visual and verbal texts that all revolve around Breakfast at Tiffany’s, this talk will explore the development of what we today call “the postracial” by investigating a test case of a degenerative genealogy in which racial history vanishes and gives way to racial signification. Hidden in this history is a forgotten reason to regard Rooney’s portrayal as even more offensive than viewers may have already imagined.

Dr. Joseph Jonghyun Jeon is Associate Professor of English at Pomona College, where he teaches courses on Asian/American literature and visual culture, 20th century American literature, and American Modernism. He recently published his book Racial Things, Racial Forms: Objecthood in Avant-Garde Asian American Poetry (U of Iowa Press, 2012).

Dr. Jeon previously taught at USD in the Department of English and we welcome him back for this lecture.

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