Mark Jerng, Ph.D.


Position Title
Professor of English and Asian American Studies, Interim Chair for African American Studies

2205 Hart Hall
Office Hours
Wednesdays 2-4 PM in Voorhies 272 and appointment by email

Ph.D. Harvard University, 2006
B.A., English, Princeton University, 1998

Mark Jerng joined the UC Davis Faculty in 2006. He currently serves as Interim Chair of the Department of African American and African Studies. He also serves as Faculty Member for the Breadloaf School of English. He was Lead PI of the UC Davis Summer Program for Literary Analysis and Success in the Humanities (UCD SPLASH), a UC-HBCU partnership with Hampton University from 2015-2018. He is also Co-Director of the Mellon Initiative on Racial Capitalism

His research specializations include Asian American literature and transnationalism, critical race theory, science fiction and fantasy (especially by contemporary Asian American and African American authors), genre and narrative theory, and law and literature. He is currently working on three projects: the work of W.E.B. Du Bois in relation to genre and theorizing sociality; reading superhero comics as a medium of cultural, racial and gendered consciousness and historicity; an analysis of cultural property and racial capitalism. He is the author most recently of Racial Worldmaking (2018). This project takes up particular popular genres - future war; plantation romance; sword and sorcery; alternate history - in order to analyze how genre formations inform our perceptual organizations of 'race' and 'world.' His first book, Claiming Others: Transracial Adoption and National Belonging (2010), focuses on the ways in which shifting norms of race and kinship shape and naturalize our conceptions of personhood. It examines the phenomenon of transracial adoption from the 1820s to the present across Native American, African American, and Asian American contexts in fiction, memoir, legal history, and social work literature. 

Book Publications

Racial Worldmaking: The Power of Popular Fiction (Fordham UP, November 2017) by Mark C. Jerng



"In a book that pays equal attention to the protocols and history of genre reading and to contemporary critical theories of race, Mark Jerng shows how techniques of worldbuilding in science fiction and fantasy and attention to setting as site of literary innovation define textual and interpretive strategies for producing race at levels other than biological differences or overtly racialized characters or authors, shifting the analysis of race and racism away from visual epistemology to allow them to be understood as embedded in fictional worlds.

—Thomas Foster, author of The Souls of Cyberfolk: Posthumanism as Vernacular Theory

"Racial Worldmaking meets the irresistible demand for scholarship that recognizes the central role of perceiving and speculating about race in American literature and culture. By situating race as a structuring principle within legal doctrines, literary traditions, and economic philosophies, Jerng interrogates the fictions that buttress dominant racial ideologies and calls attention to the imaginative work performed by thinkers who take racism seriously. Racial Worldmaking moves beyond disciplinary conventions to apply lessons learned from critical race theories and advance vital lines of inquiry inaugurated by Black and Asian American intellectuals.

—andré carrington, author of Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction

Claiming Others: Transracial Adoption and National Belonging (University of Minnesota Press, 2010) by Mark C. Jerng



"Claiming Others is a pioneering study that provides high-level theoretical grounding for a new field. Transracial/transnational interactions are basic to American adoption history from the early nineteenth century, he demonstrates; they didn't just begin in the 1950s. Jerng makes intellectual and aesthetic sense of writings by and about a new community of transracial and transnational adoptees as he discusses their new modes of personhood. This book will be essential to anyone attempting a theoretically informed discussion of adoption and culture."

—Marianne Novy, author of Reading Adoption: Family and Difference in Fiction and Drama


Selected Publications 

  • Co-authored with Colin Milburn. "This World Which Is Not One: Superhero Comics and Other Dimensions of Reference," in Practices of Speculation: Modeling, Embodiment, Figuration (eds. Jeanne Cortiel, Christine Hanke, Jan Hutta, and Coling Milburn). Transcript Verlag: 2020.
  • "The Asiatic Modal Imagination" (forthcoming, Asian American Literature in Transition volume 4 ed. Betsy Huang and Victor Mendoza, Cambridge UP, 2020)
  • "Race in the Crucible of Literary Debate," American Literary History 31.2 (Summer 2019): 260-71
  • Racial Worldmaking: The Power of Popular Fiction (monograph, Fordham University Press, 2018)
  • "Reading for Delany: Review of Stories for Chip A Tribute to Samuel R DelanyLA Review of Books (March 13, 2016):
  • "Reconstructions of Racial Perception: Margaret Mitchell's and Frank Yerby's Plantation Romances" in New Approaches to Gone With The Wind ed. James Crank (LSU Press: Baton Rouge, 2015).
  • "The Use and Abuse of Racial Counterfactuals: Reimagining Emancipation in Alternate History and US Antidiscrimination Jurisprudence," Paradoxa volume 26 - SF Now (Dec 2014): 191-211.
  • "Adoptee" in Routledge Companion to Asian American and Pacific Islander Literature ed. Rachel Lee (London: Routledge, 2014).
  • "A World of Difference: Samuel Delany's Dhalgren and the Protocols of Racial Reading,"  American Literature 83.2 (June 2011): 251-278.
  • "Nowhere In Particular: Perceiving Race, Chang-rae Lee's Aloft, and the Question of Asian American Fiction," MFS: Modern Fiction Studies 56.1 (Spring 2010): 183-204.
  • Claiming Others: Transracial Adoption and National Belonging (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010)
  • "Giving Form To Life: Cloning and Narrative Expectations of the Human," Partial Answers: Journal of Literature and the History of Ideas 6.2 (June 2008):369-93.
  • "The Character of Race: Adoption and Individuation in William Faulkner's Light in August and Charles Chesnutt's The Quarry," Arizona Quarterly 64.4 (Winter 2008): 69-102.
  • Recognizing the Transracial Adoptee: Adoption Life Stories and Chang-rae Lee's A Gesture Life" in MELUS: Journal for the Society for the Study of Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States, volume 31, number 2 (Summer 2006).

Review Essays and Other Publications

  • "Samuel R. Delany," The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 02 January 2014
  • "Chang-rae Lee," Blackwell Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Fiction (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011)
  • “Review of Carol Singley, Adopting America,” New England Quarterly 85.1 (March 2012): 194-6. 
  • "Review of David Eng, The Feeling of Kinship," Adoption and Culture volume 3 (2012)
  • Co-Director, Mellon Research Initiative on Racial Capitalism, 2017-2020
  • Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award for Graduate and Professional Teaching, 2018
  • Award for Excellence in Service to Graduate Students, 2018
  • Lead PI for UC-HBCU Initiative Grant, 2015-2018
  • UC Center for New Racial Studies Research Grant, 2012-2013
  • UC-Davis Faculty Development Award, 2009-10
  • Davis Humanities Institute Fellow, 2007-08
  • Harvard University Graduate Society Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2005-2006
  • Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, 1999-2004
  • Honorary Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship, 1999
  • Phi Betta Kappa, 1998
  • Literature of the Asian Diaspora (undergraduate)
  • Race and Reproduction (undergraduate)
  • Superhero Comics and Narratives of Justice (undergraduate)
  • The Novel and Empathy (undergraduate)
  • Critical Multiculturalism (graduate)
  • Literature and Human Rights (graduate)
  • Race in a Post-Race Era (graduate)
  • Introduction to Graduate Studies (graduate)
  • What is Ethnic Literature? (graduate)
  • Cultures of Racial Capitalism (graduate)