Skip to main content

Ryan Ku

Visiting Assistant Professor

English Literature


  2. Phone: (610) 328-8152
  3. Lang Performing Arts Center 307
  4. Office Hours: Th 4:00–5:30 p.m.
Ryan Ku
Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, with a Critical Theory Certificate, University of California, Irvine, 2017

Inaugural Postdoctoral Associate, Asian American and Diaspora Studies, Duke University, 2018–2021

Scholarly Interests:

Ryan Ku works across Southeast Asian, multiethnic American, and Global South literatures after World War II in the context of history beyond boundaries. In his first book project, Imperial Wounds: Filipino/American Novels and Late Modernity, he reads multiethnic American novels as postcolonial texts by reading them with Filipino novels. This integration of ethnic and area studies—a rereading of America through the “Filipino as method”—is based on the “structurally queer” position of the Filipino as a subject that, in not fitting into minority multiculturalism, points instead to U.S. empire history as a traumatic foundation of ethnicity in the nation. More broadly, he is interested in minor and cross-border narratives and media that index the nation’s internal contradictions with the transpacific scenes of liberal modernity. Cultivating a critical practice attentive to story, discourse, and context—also known as “(con)textual analysis”—he also takes reading as an opportunity to philosophize about language, knowledge, reality, power, temporality, and style. As a teacher, he aims to let students explore the world through texts, thereby know the other and the self, share in the “life of freedom” fostered by the humanities—not least, by writing well. One of his courses, “Alternate War Histories of Asia/America,” is the starting point for a second book project.


  • "Southeast Asian Literature in Translation"
  • "Global South Literature"
  • "U.S. Empire Literature"
  • “Southeast Asian Literature in English”
  • “Asian American Gender/Sexuality/Species”
  • "Alternate War Histories of Asia/America”
  • “Asian American Literature and Culture”


  • “Gina Apostol,” The Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Fiction 1980–2020, edited by Patrick O’Donnell, Stephen J. Burn, and Lesley Larkin, 2022, John Wiley and Sons Ltd.,
  • “Postcolonial Pharmakon: Traumatic Transmission in Tony Perez’s Cubao-Kalaw Kalaw-Cubao,” Kritika Kultura 38 (2022): 195–231, Ateneo de Manila University,

  • “The Failure and Reality of Sublimation: Psychoanalytic Ontology and Revolution,” American Imago: Psychoanalysis and the Human Sciences 78, 1 (Spring 2021): 79–103, Johns Hopkins University Press,
  • Review of Kendall A. Johnson’s The New Middle Kingdom: China and the Early American Romance of Free Trade (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017), Zhaoming Qian’s East-West Exchange and Late Modernism: Williams, Moore, Pound (University of Virginia Press, 2017), and Andrew C. McKevitt’s Consuming Japan: Popular Culture and the Globalizing of 1980s America (University of North Carolina Press, 2017), American Literature 92, 2 (June 2020): 387–390, Duke University Press,