Home / News / Hwang lectures for Victor J. Emmet Award 
Hyeryung Hwang speaking at the 29th Annual Emmett Memorial Lecture on Sept. 22. They spoke about Korean literature and its impact with younger generations. Clarissa Worley

Hwang lectures for Victor J. Emmet Award 

Curtis Meyer reporter 

Each year, the Victor J. Emmet Award is given to the author with the best essay on a literary topic published in The Midwest Quarterly Journal. This year, Hyeryung Hwang won it for the second time in three years.  

“In 2020, I heard that I won this Emmet prize, but at that point because of the pandemic, I wasn’t able to come here. I recorded my lecture instead and I sent it to Pittsburg State University, and this time I was surprised to hear that I won this prize again. So, they really wanted to invite me to campus in person to give a lecture.” Hwang said. 

The lecture is given annually by the recipient of the Victor J. Emmet award. Hwang’s lecture was titled ‘Barbaric Modernity and Disabled Subjectives: Memory of War in Peripheral Literature’. Hwang’s research is focused on the “global south,” specifically Southern America and Asia (The term “global south” refers to a grouping of countries based on their relative wealth and prosperity, not a grouping based on geography and relation to the Equator). 

The lecture this year was focused on Korean Author Ha Guen-Chan, a prominent author from the Cold War. Born in 1931, Guen-Chan lived through the time of Imperial Colonialism to the Cold War, watching his country being split in two. He also served in the military for a year.  

Trying to express his grief, he wrote several books about postwar Korea and the effect it had on the populace. His stories differed from many others, being written more from the rural people of Korea’s point of view.  

While some critics say that his stories are about the larger struggle of capitalism and communism, Hwang argues that his stories reflect more on the larger pattern of history, where every person is tied into the collective fate of the whole. 

“I really enjoyed it, I mean learning all about history and world history is really cool and  important to me. I think the public school system kind of failed us on that, so I really enjoyed it and I liked hearing other perspectives through literature,” said Alea Billings, a criminal justice major with a minor in Spanish.  

Students and staff were present for the lecture, which Hwang said she greatly appreciated.  

“I was a little bit nervous in the morning, looking at the weather, it was raining, and I was like “oh the lecture is at 7 PM and it’s raining, I don’t think that we’ll have a great turnout”…but I was so pleasantly surprised to see the huge turnout, and students wanted to stay after the lecture and talk about the topic. That was very impressive and inspiring,”  Hwang said. 

Hwang currently teaches at Cal Poly-Ponoma College, located in California. She has her doctorate in English from University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. 

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