Learn more on the background of the issue and our concerns in the following articles:
Search for Tomorrow (2007)
Professor Sohn was first hired as an Asian American novelist specialist
STATIC Op-Ed Article by Thanh D. Nguyen
From the perspective of a B.A. and M.A. candidate advisee under Professor Sohn
Stanford Daily Interviews Petitioning Team
Petition contributors Annabeth Leow ‘16 and Sunli Kim ‘15 provide insight on their reasons for supporting the petition
Expanded Coverage of Stanford Daily Article
The Chronicle of Higher Education Vitae Article
On the role of the online petition in tenure cases from the perspective of students, the administration, and Professor Stephen Hong Sohn
We, the undersigned students, alumni, faculty, staff of Stanford University and other concerned community members, petition Stanford Provost, John W. Etchemendy & Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, Richard Saller, to request that Assistant Professor Stephen Hong Sohn be granted tenure.
We are very disappointed to learn about the decision to deny tenure to Professor Sohn. He has made extraordinary contributions to research, teaching, and community service in his capacity as Assistant Professor of English at Stanford since 2007. Professor Sohn also serves as an affiliated professor for Stanford’s Center for Comparative Study of Race & Ethnicity, Modern Thought & Literature, and Asian American Studies programs.
Professor Sohn authored Racial Asymmetries: Asian American Fictional Worlds (New York University Press, 2014) and is currently writing Live to Retell: Plotting Survival in Queer Asian American Fiction. Professor Sohn also published five peer-reviewed journal articles, all of which develop projects distinct from those addressed in his book. The interdisciplinarity of these journals, such as Cultural Critique, demonstrates the scope and relevance of his work. Additionally, Professor Sohn has edited several issues of prestigious journals, including Modern Fiction Studies, which is consistently ranked as one of the most impactful publications in the literary field; as well as books, the most recent being Anime Wong: Fictions of Performance by acclaimed cultural critic Karen Tei Yamashita. Professor Sohn’s prolific and polyvalent work is recognized by distinguished academic and creative communities across disciplines, and demonstrates the versatility of his intellectual contributions, rigorous research, and discerning perspective. His groundbreaking scholarship in queer and gender theory, transnationalism, American and Asian American literary criticism has impacted not only those in academia, but also students and community members of diverse backgrounds and aspirations.
The decision to deny Professor Sohn tenure may lead to his departure from Stanford, and we are alarmed at what this possibility will mean for Stanford and its students’ research and education. Professor Sohn‘s unique research and his courses that derive from it are not available elsewhere at Stanford. Moreover, they address frequently overlooked, yet extremely important perspectives that give students a deeper understanding of diversity and a stronger capacity to navigate different spaces and cultures. Professor Sohn’s many areas of expertise in conjunction with his research and course offerings have fulfilled a lack in current scholarship (as demonstrated by his current book) and opened up new areas of inquiry by his facilitation of dialogue between varied fields and media.
Professor Sohn’s interdisciplinary work extends to his mentorship, as well. His advisees come from various departments like CCSRE, Feminist Studies, MTL, ILAC, and Symbolic Systems, and their research have resulted in successful Chappell Lougee projects, award winning honors theses, and PhD dissertations. Further, Professor Sohn has empowered his students to apply the critical thinking and global citizenship that they have learned from his classes into their daily lives and professional careers. His 2010 Dean’s Award for First Years of Teaching at Stanford, 2010 Asian American Activities Center Stanford Faculty Award, 2011 Center for Comparative Study of Race & Ethnicity Faculty Recognition Award, and 2013 Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching all testify to Professor Sohn’s dedication and enthusiasm towards teaching and mentoring research.
We are also very concerned about the decision to deny tenure to Professor Sohn on grounds of diversity at Stanford. As aforementioned, this decision may lead to his departure from the university. Since the Office of the Provost and Stanford’s Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity Faculty Development Initiative was started in 2007, there has been difficulty recruiting and retaining professors who teach Asian American Studies (AAS) courses. Were it not for Professor Sohn’s numerous AAS cross-listed courses over the past six years, students would have found it even more challenging to take AAS classes, major/minor in the program, or find meaningful intersections between AAS and other academic fields. Given Professor Sohn's major role in fostering diversity in research, mentoring, and teaching at Stanford, reconsidering his tenure case would be an important demonstration of Stanford’s commitment to valuing diversity.
We thoughtfully ask you to reconsider tenure for Professor Stephen Sohn.
If interested, please submit a letter or a note with your thoughts by MAY 16 to the representative of the group that you most identify with:
Undergraduate: Annie Phan ‘16 (anphan[at] stanford.edu)
Graduate: Helen Shin PhD ‘13 (haerin.shin[at] vanderbilt.edu)
Alumni/ Staff / Community members: Victoria Yee BA/MA ‘13 (yee.victoria[at]alumni.stanford.edu)