Seung Hyun Chung

Wolf Humanities Center Undergraduate Fellow

20172018 Forum on Afterlives

Seung Hyun Chung

Executive Board, Wolf Undergraduate Humanities Forum


CAS, 2018

Seung Hyun (or Seung-Hyun) is a senior majoring in English with minors in Asian American Studies and Theatre Arts. He is a budding playwright and filmmaker, engaging creative practice with his research interests in critical race theory, psychoanalysis, and medical/environmental humanities. He is particularly interested in the intersection of race, labor, and trauma, exploring how communities of color are racialized through their work and how repressed traumas form in the process of racialization. At Penn, he serves as co-chair for the Asian American Studies Undergraduate Advisory Board, creative director for PenNaatak Theatre Group, and a resident advisor at Hill College House. In his free time, he loves to binge-watch anime and take long meditative walks.

Empathy Machine? The Afterlives of Race, Memory, and Bodyhood in Immersive Virtual Reality

This project aims to deconstruct virtual reality as an "empathy machine" by exploring the ethical, social, and philosophical implications of experiencing racialized bodies and memories through the burgeoning technology of immersive virtual reality (IVR). Specifically, I will undertake a speculative creative-writing project in the form of a full-length play, applying theories of racial formation, trauma, and virtual reality ethics as research. The narrative will investigate the concept of "transracialism" and the ethics of inhabiting/performing Blackness, Asianness, and Whiteness in a virtual context. How do concepts of identity and self change when one can experience afterlives in a virtual memory machine beyond their own, physical bodies? What issues form when one can embody the racialized "other" for the sake of therapy and understanding? Can one "own" virtual experiences and memories?