Anne A. Cheng

Office Hours

On Leave, AY23-24


Anne Anlin Cheng is Professor of English, and affiliated faculty in the Program in American Studies, the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the Committee on Film Studies, at Princeton.  She is an interdisciplinary, comparative race scholar who focuses on the uneasy intersection between politics and aesthetics. Her scholarship draws widely from literary and visual studies, race and gender studies, film and architectural theory, legal studies, and psychoanalysis.  She works primarily with twentieth-century American literature and visual culture with special focus on Asian American and African American literatures.

She is the author of three books: The Melancholy of Race: Psychoanalysis, Assimilation, and Hidden GriefSecond Skin: Josephine Baker and the Modern Surface, which won Honorable Mention for Best Book from the Modernist Studies Association; and, most recently, Ornamentalism, which served as an impetus for the Metropolitan Museum's upcoming show on Chinoiserie, opening in 2025.  Her writings have appeared in journals such as Critical InquiryRepresentationsPMLACamera ObscuraDifferences, among others.  She is also a contributor to The New York TimesThe AtlanticLos Angeles Review of BooksThe Washington Post, Hyperallergic, and The Huffington Post.

Cheng received her B.A. in English and Creative Writing at Princeton University, her Masters in English and Creative Writing from Stanford University, and her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from University of California at Berkeley. Prior to returning to Princeton as a faculty, she taught at Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley.

Cheng is the founder and organizer of the public conversation series Critical Encounters that promotes dialogue between art and theory and encourages cross-disciplinary conversations on topics of social justice. Past programs include a collaborative student reenactment of the Minoru Yasui Trial, with Appellate Court Judge Denny Chin; a debate between the editor of Nature magazine and Charis Thompson on bioethics; a screening of new works by internationally renowned filmmaker Isaac Julien, in conversation with Eduardo Cadava; a conversation between playwrights Jorge Ignacio Cortinas and Young Jean Lee, and more.

Cheng is also one of the founders of a new experiment in research and pedagogical partnership called the American Studies Collaboratory, a site for nurturing cross-campus research affinities.  The Col(LAB), for short, creates pop-up, multicultural, and multi-generational labs that bring together scholars and students from the humanities, the social sciences, and the sciences to explore how issues such as identity or citizenship shape and are shaped by law, the arts, literature, food, sexuality, space, and more

In 2023-2024, she will be a Ford Foundation Scholar in Residence at the Museum of Modern Art, NY. Her new book of essays Ordinary Disasters is forthcoming from Knopf.