erin Khuê Ninh

Associate Professor

Office Location

HSSB 5036


Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, English

Asian American and comparative ethnic literatures, literary studies, women's literature, feminist studies, cultural studies, family and intergenerational conflict, power and subject formation, gender and the embodied subject, mental health, sexual violence.


erin Khuê Ninh comes to UC Santa Barbara by way of California's public school system. She attended public grade schools in Los Angeles, completed both her BA and PhD degrees in English at Berkeley, and held a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship in the English department at UCLA.

Her research and teaching explore the subtleties of power, harm, and subject formation, whether in the contexts of terror and war, of family and immigration, or of girlhood and beauty.

Her monograph, Ingratitude: The Debt-Bound Daughter in Asian American Literature (NYU), won the Literary Studies Book Award from the Association for Asian American Studies in 2013. The book takes a long look at intergenerational conflict, that weary specter of second-generation writing, but under the harsh new lights of post-structuralist and cultural-materialist analyses. Ninh argues that the immigrant family unit is structured by an economic and political investment in the American capitalist system, and driven by its dedication profitably to raise the model minority. She argues, too, the grievous costs of this capitalist venture: a daughterly subjectivity trained by masochism into self-destruction.

Her courses include a lower-division survey of Asian American literature and upper-division courses in Asian American fiction (mysteries), Vietnamese American experience, and academic writing skills. In teaching, she strives to introduce students to new perspectives on culture and society, to train them in rigorous analytical habits, and to inspire in them an appreciation for the well-written word—others’ and their own.

Professor Ninh is also affiliate faculty in Feminist Studies and Comparative Literature.

In an extracurricular capacity, Professor Ninh is currently a Court Appointed Special Advocate for foster youth, with CASA of Los Angeles (please donate!); has served on the board of the Association for Asian American Studies; as publisher and then blog editor for Hyphen magazine; and on \the screening committee and as editor of the catalog for the Vietnamese International Film Festival.

Lang Toi Powerpoint Image
Lang Toi PPT: for "Forwarding Memory through Diaporama," in Amerasia 35:2 (original title: "Nostalgia Going Forward."




Ingratitude: The Debt-Bound Daughter in Asian American Literature.  New York University Press, March 2011.

(translation of) Ingratitude: The Debt-Bound Daughter in Asian American Literature.  With Forewords by Sau-ling Cynthia Wong and Hsinya Huang. Translated by Su-ching Huang. Taipei: Bookman, 2014.

selected academic publications

"Without Enhancements: Sexual Violence in the Everyday Lives of Asian American WomenAsian American Feminisms & Women of Color Politics, U of Washington P, 2018.

"Model Minority Narratives and the Asian American FamilyThe Cambridge Companion to Asian American Literature, Cambridge UP, 2015.

"Affect/Family/Filiality" The Routledge Companion to Asian American and Pacific Islander Literature, Routledge UP, 2014. 

The Model Minority: Asian American immigrants families and intimate harm Kalfou 1:2, 2014.

Gold Digger: Reading the Marital and National Romance in Bharati Mukherjee's JasmineMELUS 38:3, Fall 2013.  Please note errrata:  p.1-- "less ideologically anathema South Asian American fiction" (not "less ideological"); p. 6--"depends, no less" (not "demands").

Advice on How Not to Misread the Tiger Mother Amerasia Journal, September 22, 2011.

Forwarding Memory through Diaporama: The Passing-on of Viet Kieu Nostalgia” Amerasia Journal 35:2, Summer 2009.

selected other publications

"On Chinese International Students (Or, Sorry If This Comes off a Bit Yellow Peril", September 15, 2016.

Jeremy Lin, face of America”  ESPN, March 15, 2012.

An Ode to ?i.”  diaCritics, December 11, 2011.

Asian American Like Me.”  Huffington Post, May 26, 2011.

Amy Chua and the Externalized Cost of Book Sales.” Huffington Post, January 18, 2011.


Introduction to Asian American Literature (5):  An historically-structured survey course. Texts include: Carlos Bulosan's America is in the Heart, John Okada's No-No Boy, Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior, David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly, and Lois Ann Yamanaka's Blu's Hanging. 

Please note regarding AsAm 5: GOLD may indicate that space remains in some sections, but courses are full when *lecture* is full. No overriding add codes will be available until the second week of classes.

Vietnamese American Experience (100EE):  A course looking at the production of historical and cultural narratives about Vietnamese American experience. What debates do second-generation Vietnamese Americans navigate, and how do they choose the stories they themselves tell? 

Asian American Academic Rhetoric (108):  A workshop devoted to honing academic writing skills. Designed for the upper-division student who has already mastered the mechanics of argumentative essay writing, as offered by the Writing Program, and who would write with professional polish. Students will engage each week in critiquing published scholarly work, editing journalistic copy submitted for publication, or workshopping each other’s writing intensively.  By quarter’s end, students shall develop a keen editor’s eye, able to recognize and hopefully to produce academic prose that is rigorous: precise, concise, clear. 

Asian American Fiction (122):  On the Asian American detective story... sorta. Texts include: Hisaye Yamamoto's Seventeen Syllables, Nina Revoyr's Southland, Suki Kim's The Interpeter, Susan Choi's A Person of Interest, and Chieh Chieng's Long Stay in a Distant Land.

Comparative Ethnic American Literature (124):  This course, nicknamed "dating in rape culture," reads literature alongside film and other media on the themes of beauty and romance, through gender and race. Texts include Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, Sigrid Nunez' A Feather on the Breath of God, and Dorothy Allison's Bastard out of Carolina.

Asian American Women's Literature (128):  A literary meditation on sexual violence in wartime. Texts include:  Nora Okja Keller's Comfort Woman, Joy Kogawa's Obasan, Fiona Cheong's Scent of the Gods, and Aimee Phan's We Should Never Meet.