Professor Park (COL) Brings Light to Difficult Conversations with Students
(Content warning: mention of sexual violence)
“How do we resist the forces that keep us blind, keep us silent?”
On the evening of Wednesday, March 27th, Professor You-Me Park posed this question to 11 students at the Red House for the second-to-last Red House Dinner Series of the academic year.
As a part of their dinner, Park shared two powerful recounts of devastating crises involving violence and the following lack of discussion of these crises; both stories highlighted major themes in their conversation. The first story was that of a massacre in a South Korean town during South Korea’s military dictatorship, in which hundreds were killed and kept in the dark as to what happened. The second highlighted the alarming report of sexual assault cases occurring in immigrant detention centers under modern ICE custody. With this recent news, Park noted the lack of outrage and response to this tragedy.
With these stories, Park set the theme of their dinner: the importance of recognizing victims of violence through education and dialogue. This very mission, Park emphasized, drives their academic work, which includes contributions to the literature on neo-imperialism and gendered violence. While the topic of conversation was heavy at times, throughout the evening Professor Park reminded students of our duty to take part in these difficult discussions and to do so with an intellectual, critical lens.
In another effort to voice issues which are left unmentioned, Park encouraged students to “mainstream gender” by making gender central to academic discussions of identity and difference. As an example, Park suggested that “feminist” readings of literary texts need not occur only in pockets– but that instead all readings should be inherently feminist.
Students left the event voicing the inspiration they took away from the dinner, and the openness of the conversation that Park fostered throughout the evening. A dialogue that was collaborative, inclusive, and thought-provoking, Park’s dinner was a rewarding gathering in the overall 2018-19 Dinner Series calendar.
The Dinner Series will take a hiatus until fall 2019. Students can join the Red House Student Network listserv here to be the first to receive information about signups and stay up to date about all upcoming Red House events. You can also visit our Facebook page for event updates from the Red House. If you are a faculty member interested in hosting a Dinner, please reach out to us.