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Afternoon Tea with the Literature Department


What is Afternoon Tea?

Afternoon Tea with the Literature Department is a monthly meeting in which presentersMFA and Literature graduate students and professorsshare their critical and creative work on a common theme. Speakers give 10-12 minute “flash talks,” followed by a Q&A and open discussion. The event is a “no-pressure” and informal space for our speakers to comfortably share their projects at any stage and receive wide-ranging feedback.

Our Mission Statement:

Afternoon Tea aims to foster a sense of community within the UCSD Literature department by providing the opportunity for its members to exchange ideas, engage in critical dialogue, and make connections with one another.  It further seeks to provide a space for participants to learn more about the exciting projects underway in the department and support each other in the writing and research process.


Jessica Aguilar
Marina Vlahakis
Phuong Vuong
Shannon Welch

*Let us know if you’d like to join our team!

Collaborative Bibliographies:

For each meeting, we send out an invitation to edit and add to a collaborative bibliography pertaining to the themes of the meeting. We encourage participants to share book recommendations, articles, citations, pieces of writing, etc. that can help us to think through the topic from multiple perspectives and with different focal points.

Here is a link to the folder containing current and past collaborative bibliographies:

List of Values:

Below is a link to a list of values that we share with presenters and audience members to help guide our community interactions during the meetings and build a more collective and just space. We invite all participants to contribute to creating and editing this list.

Our History:

Afternoon Tea was started in the Fall of 2017 by graduate students, Eunice Lee, Marina Vlahakis, and Shannon Welch, after hearing of the idea from Professor Amelia Glaser during her graduate seminar. Initially, graduate students and professors gathered together bi-weekly to meet one another and discuss their research interests over tea and light refreshments. Oftentimes one guest speaker presented his/ her/ their work and had the opportunity to take questions and comments from the group. In 2019, we opened up attendance to other departments to generate exciting new connections within the larger UCSD community. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have moved our meetings to Zoom, but this has not prevented us from engaging in dynamic and fruitful discussions with one another. We actually have used this time as an opportunity to try out a new structure for Afternoon Teaimplementing the “flash talks” and inviting multiple speakers to present about a common topic. The group, however, is always evolving and we invite feedback and suggestions for how to best run our events.

Upcoming Events

Afternoon Tea  Tuesday, November 8th 1:30-2:30pm in the deCerteau Room and on Zoom (hybrid)

Queer Asia/ Asian Diaspora

While Queer Theory seeks to trouble the hegemonic mechanisms that construct borders between “normative” and “nonnormative,” the global turn in Asian Studies has also endeavored to unsettle boundaries, especially those that essentialize “Asia.” By bringing the two fields into conversation, what other boundaries may be challenged, exposed, blurred, and/ or transcended? How might Asian or Asian diasporic perspectives complicate U.S.- and Eurocentric theorizations of sexuality and gender that are often privileged in Queer Studies? How might queering Asian Studies further disrupt the dominance of nation-based frameworks and colonialist logics in area studies? What additional creative possibilities and/ or limitations might arise from forming a strategic alliance between Queer Studies and Asian/ Asian Diasporic Studies?

Speakers: Ph.D. candidates, Steven Beardsley, Ningning Huang, Trung Le, and MFA candidate, Emily Yang.

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The Weekly Writing Room Wednesdays 5:00-7:00pm PT:

The Afternoon Tea Writing Room will be back this quarter every Wednesday from 5-7pm. Our first meeting will be on Zoom and we'll discuss if we'd like to move to in-person meetings.

The Writing Room is a shared virtual space for writing and reading in the company of friends and colleagues. We hope you can join us!

Here is the Zoom link for the meetings: Meeting ID: 926 6720 2342 One tap mobile +16699006833,,92667202342# US (San Jose) +12133388477,,92667202342# US (Los Angeles) Dial by your location +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose) +1 213 338 8477 US (Los Angeles) +1 669 219 2599 US (San Jose) Meeting ID: 926 6720 2342 Find your local number:

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Past Meetings (2022-2023)

Afternoon Tea  Thursday, October 6th 1:00-3:00pm on the RWAC 5th Floor Terrace

MFA and Lit. Grad. Student Social

We hope to give the new cohorts a chance to meet the returning graduate students in our department and ask them any questions they have about the MFA and Lit. Programs, UCSD, life in San Diego, etc. We will also hear from members of Afternoon Tea, the Literature Graduate Student Committee (LGSC), and the UAW 2865 union to learn more about different ways of getting involved in the department and at UCSD. This will be a grad student-only event—we’ll have the chance to meet faculty at the reception on October 11th.  We will be serving tea and light refreshments, but we kindly request you BYOM (Bring Your Own Mug).

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Past Meetings (2021-2022)

April 2022: April Afternoon Tea Poetry Reading

We will be celebrating National Poetry month with a poetry reading.

Speakers: MFA graduate students Dana FidlerKira Jacobson, and Matthew Ford, Literature PhD student Evelyn Vasquez, and Professor Brandon Som

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March 2022: Anti-Capitalist Critique at the Intersections of Gender, Sexuality, Race, and Class

This March is both Women’s Herstory Month and the beginning of UAW 2865’s bargaining negotiations with the university over its union contract. We, therefore, wanted to create a space to discuss women’s contributions to anti-capitalist organizing, particularly resistance efforts spearheaded by working-class, trans, or queer women, indigenous, and/ or women of color. How might their insight help us to reflect on our union demands and organizing practices at this critical moment of possibility? What critiques of capitalism have been forwarded from the social margins? What points of caution have women at the intersections of racial, gendered, heteronormative, class, and colonial domination raised with regard to organizing? What concrete practices and communal formations have they engaged in as alternatives to capitalism?

Speakers: MFA graduate student Cheyenne Avila, Literature PhD candidates Celine Khoury and Heather Paulson,and History Professor Wendy Matsumura

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February 2022: COVID-19 and Globalization

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on global flows. Since health and government officials identified travel and proximity as determinant factors of the virus’s spread, many countries banned international travel and scaled back on foreign trade, disproportionally affecting migrant communities (refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced, stateless, labor migrants and undocumented migrants). Additionally, the monopolization of the vaccine by a handful of pharmaceutical companies has resulted in its inequitable distribution, creating starker economic divisions between countries across the globe.Yet despite these increases in isolation and separation, the internet has taken on an even more significant role in keeping people and communities in contact with one another. This month’s Afternoon Tea seeks to consider how the pandemic has changed global flows and the mapping of the world. What are the implications of closing the geographical borders and reinforcing economic and healthcare inequities? What can be said about the rise of digitization and the prominence of the virtual world? Is the globe becoming larger (more distant) or smaller? How is this current moment influencing the way in which we conduct research in academia and relate to one another? 

Speakers: Graduate student Dingding Wang and Professors Babak Rahimi and Amy Sara Carroll

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Past Meetings (2020-2021)

August 2020: Police, Prisons, and Abolition

Presenters: Literature graduate student Bianca Negrete Coba and professors Sal Nicolazzo and Dennis Childs

September 2020: Archives, Reading Practices, and Remote Research

Under the current circumstances regarding COVID-19, many of us are experiencing the frustrations and challenges of working remotely, especially with the increased reliance on the digital. How might this situation be affecting archival research and reading practices? In what ways can looking at the history of these practices help us to understand how this historical moment fits into the ongoing transformations within archives and reading?  What might these practices look like in the future after the pandemic?  What possibilities may emerge from increased digitalization? How will this affect the accessibility of resources? Whose voices may be marginalized and what hierarchies may be reinforced by archival knowledge production? How might we engage more ethical archival and reading practices now and post-COVID-19?

Presenters: Literature PhD Candidates Stacie Vos and Hannah Doermann and professor Seth Lerer

October 2020: Indigenous Knowledges and Decolonizing Research Methodologies

In her book Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (2012), Linda Tuhiwai Smith proposes 25 Indigenous Projects that promote Indigenous sovereignty and the well-being of Indigenous communities and belief systems. These projects encompass social justice work, cultural survival, self-determination, healing and restoration, and thrivance—each of which consider the significance of relationships in our personal, political, and academic work. An example of such practices is Trafkin kimün witral or “weaving knowledge barter,” an Indigenous-Mapuche method of building community through a bodily practice. Trafkin kimün witral recuperates traditional weaving as a Mapuche epistemology to heal and restore community while also presenting a critical question about what the function of duality inside our communities is. By exploring how Indigenous knowledges and decolonizing research methodologies expand and intimate our understanding of the variegated ways in which we produce and circulate knowledge, this Afternoon Tea considers: what futurities might emerge from research that requires us to be in community? 

Presenters: Literature graduate students Manuel Carrión-Lira and Joanmarie Bañez and professors Katie Walkiewicz and Kazim Ali

Event Flyer - Afternoon Tea Oct 2020

November 2020: “Let There be Light”: Models of Justice in the Ancient World

Since November is the month of the presidential election, questions of democracy, justice, law, power, and agency come to the forefront. How would ancient/ premodern philosophers comment on the 2020 presidential election and current state of the United States? How has our society used and misused myths and models to define and legitimize justice and democracy? How can we work toward a more socially just society when political and legal systems fail to guarantee justice for everyone? How is agency important to the concepts of democracy and justice? 

Presenters: Literature graduate student Makenzie Read, Literature PhD Candidate Meaghan Baril and professors Page duBois and Ted Kelting

Event Flyer - Afternoon Tea Nov 2020

January 2021: Resistance, Dissent, and Solidarity

The recent attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of rioters exposed how law enforcement responds differently to protests. The demonstrations organized last year by Black and other communities of color to protest the murders of Black women and men by police officers culminated in egregious violence and an exceedingly large number of arrests. The same did not apply to the mob of rioters this month. While the American political system remains unresponsive to the demands of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the violence against Black people and people of color continues, the movement has had a global impact and garnered international support. People around the world gathered to protest systemic racism and police brutality in front of the respective U.S. embassies. Since BLM has become part of a Global Struggle Against Oppression, this month’s Afternoon Tea seeks to discuss modes/ instances of resistance that inspire transnational solidarity and to investigate the rise of a global community of the oppressed. How do local sentiments of tension and dissent come to have a global impact? How can we understand the connections between the local and global scales of racial, capitalist, and heteropatriarchal domination? How can we understand the historical specificity of the current era shaped by global interactions through social media, while also relating this to historical precedents and global histories of resistance and solidarity?

Presenters: MFA graduate student Neon Mashurov and professors Amanda Batarseh and Amelia Glaser

Event Flyer - Afternoon Tea Jan 2021

April 2021: Weekly Morning Teas and National Poetry Month Reading 

April is National Poetry Month, when many poets aim to write 30 poems in 30 days (30x30). In that spirit, Lit. PhD students and writers Phuong T. Vuong and Teo Rivera-Dundas, will host a weekly creative writing room every Friday from 10-11:30am. The sessions will include light check-ins, 60 minutes of writing, and closing reflections.  You can find the zoom links here.

All creative writing genres and experience levels welcomed. These sessions are open to both graduate students (MFAs and PhDs) and department faculty. Come for one, some, or all of the sessions!

In continued celebration of National Poetry Month, we will be hosting MFA and PhD students Maya, Teo, Becca, and Phuong who will share some of their creative work with us. Following the reading, we will open the floor to questions and answers and an open discussion.  

Presenters: MFA and PhD students Maya Beck, Becca Rose, Teo Rivera-dundas, Phuong Vuong

Event Flyer - Afternoon Tea April 2021
Event Flyer - Afternoon Tea April 2021

May 2021: Solidarity with Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities

The murder of eight individuals of Asian descent, 6 of whom women, in the Atlanta area on March 16th, along with the sharp rise in anti-Asian hate crimes over the past year, reaffirm the need for reflection and concrete action to address anti-Asian racism on both local and global scales.  Anti-Asian violence, however, is not a new phenomenon, but rather a continuation of the violence bred by deep-rooted and overlapping power structures tied to white supremacy, anti-blackness, cisheteropatriarchy, settler colonialism, and racial capitalism. From coolie laborers, and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to Japanese internment during World War II and continuing rhetoric of yellow peril, in addition to imperial expansion and nuclear detonations in the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. has a long history of imperialism and militarism built on anti-Asian racism. At this month’s Afternoon Tea, we hope to create a dialogue on current manifestations of anti-Asian racism—alongside anti-blackness and settler colonial violence towards indigenous peoples—that was foundational to the US’s state formation. What do critical voices from the Asian and Pacific Islander communities reveal about the intersecting hegemonic formations in the U.S. and the transpacific? In what ways can we understand the oft-tense ties between Asian and Pacific Islander communities (and with larger concepts of anti-blackness and settler colonialism) through the current moment? How can we address this harm and violence and move toward healing, safety, and relations of care? In what ways can the Literature Department practice care in the time of hate and violence towards marginalized communities?

Presenters: Literature Ph.D. candidate Sang Eun Eunice Lee and professors Andrea Mendoza, Hoang Tan Nguyen, and Erin Suzuki

Event Flyer - Afternoon Tea May 2021