Solberg, S. E. (Sammy Edward), 1930-

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An authority on Korean literature and a pioneer in the study of Asian American literature, S.E. (Sammy Edward) Solberg (1930-2005) was a scholar, translator, University of Washington professor, and an activist on behalf of the Asian American community in Washington State.

Born in Fertile, Minnesota, Solberg grew up and attended school in Montana and served with the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Korea during the early 1950s. He received a master's degree in East Asian Area Studies from the University of Washington in 1960, which he followed with three further years of graduate study at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea. Upon his return from Korea, Solberg worked towards his doctorate in comparative literature (1971); he would remain affiliated with the University of Washington for thirty years. Solberg's initial research interests were in Korean literature, but expanded to include Korean-American and Asian-American literature, especially work on the Asian immigrant experience. In the early 1970s, Solberg began studying Filipino-American writer Carlos Bulosan, who, at the time of Solberg's research, had become a relatively obscure figure. Solberg's advocacy lay behind the 1973 reissue of Bulosan's long out-of-print, America is in the Heart. Solberg also promoted contemporary Asian-American writers, organizing the first Pacific Northwest Asian American Writers Conference (1976) with Steve Sumida. In 1989, he served as a co-editor with Sid White on the award-winning anthology, People of Washington: Perspectives on Cultural Diversity, a collection of essays about Washington's ethnic communities compiled to celebrate the state's centennial. Solberg also was active in the Seattle Korean-American community in Seattle for many years. In the 1980s, he also became heavily involved with Cambodian affairs. Solberg started a correspondence with Prince Norodom Sihanouk, then living in exile in Paris. He also became advisor to the University of Washington's Khmer Student Association and other Khmer community organizations. In addition to his scholary work and activism, Solberg was a partner in two business ventures, Amkor Trading Inc. and Lutusco International Ltd.

From the description of S.E. Solberg papers, 1943-2000 (bulk 1975-1998). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 123949715

Sam Solberg was a scholar, translator, University of Washington professor, and community activist. In addition to being an authority on Korean Literature, he was a pioneer in the study of Asian American literature. He also played an active role in Asian American immigrant community organizations in Washington state.

S.E. (Sammy Edward) Solberg was born in Fertile, Minnesota, in 1930 and was raised in and around Big Timber and Cardwell, Montana. He earned a B.S. in education from Western Montana College in 1951 and served with the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Korea. After earning his master's degree from the University of Washington in East Asian Area Studies in 1960, Solberg completed three years of graduate study at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea, where he also served as an English language instructor.

Upon his return from Korea, Solberg worked as a teaching and research fellow at the University of Washington while working towards his doctorate in comparative literature, which he earned in 1971. From 1973-1974, he served as assistant to the director of the Institute for Comparative and Foreign Area Studies (now the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies) and in 1974 was appointed to a part-time faculty position in the American Ethnic Studies and Comparative Literature Departments. He remained affiliated with the University of Washington for 30 years.

Solberg was first recognized as an authority in Korean literature. In 1963 the Asia Society asked him to serve as an editorial consultant for a proposed anthology of Korean literature, and his work resulted in the publication of the Korean literature issue of its journal, Literature East and West . He continued to translate and write about Korean literature, songs, and plays. However, Solberg's interests expanded to include Korean-American and Asian-American literature and the Asian immigrant experience. In the early 1970s, Solberg received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study Asian American literatures, which he used to do research in the papers of Filipino-American writer Carlos Bulosan. At the time of Solberg's research, Bulosan, who died in 1956, was an obscure figure. Bulosan's novel, American Is In the Heart, was first published in 1946 and was one of the few describing the Filipino immigrant experience. Solberg successfully campaigned for the University of Washington Press to reissue the long out-of-print work in 1973.

Solberg also promoted contemporary Asian-American writers. In 1976 Solberg and graduate student Steve Sumida organized the Pacific Northwest Asian American Writers Conference. The conference was the first in the region to bring together writers, students, and educators to examine literature by and about Asian Americans. Solberg himself presented a paper on Sui Sin Far (Edith Maud Eaton) and helped bring renewed recognition to this early Chinese-American writer. Solberg was instrumental in the University of Washington's decision to reissue Japanese-American novelist John Okada's novel, No-No Boy in 1979. In the 1980s he published major papers on Carlos Bulosan and on the role of Hawaiian music and dance in American culture. He and Sid White co-edited People of Washington: Perspectives on Cultural Diversity in 1989. The book, a collection of essays about Washington's ethnic communities compiled to celebrate Washington's centennial, was awarded the Governor’s Writers Award in 1991. That same year he received the People’s Scholar Award of the Korean American Journalists Association. In the spring of 1997 he was awarded the Pioneer Award by the Association for Asian American Studies.

Solberg was long involved with the local Korean-American community in Seattle and closely followed Korean political affairs. In the 1980s he became heavily involved with Cambodian affairs. He started a correspondence with Prince Norodom Sihanouk, then living in exile in Paris. He also became advisor to the University of Washington's Khmer Student Association and other Khmer community organizations.

Solberg was a partner in two far east business ventures that capitalized on his Korean and other Asian connections, Amkor Trading Inc. and Lutusco International Ltd. The latter was involved in the import/export of goods and business consulting in Asia.

S.E. Solberg died on April 26, 2005.

From the guide to the S. E. Solberg papers, 1943-2000, 1975-1998, (University of Washington Libraries Special Collections)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf S. E. Solberg papers, 1943-2000, 1975-1998 University of Washington Libraries Special Collections
creatorOf Solberg, S. E. (Sammy Edward), 1930-. S.E. Solberg papers, 1943-2000 (bulk 1975-1998). University of Washington Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Asia Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Bulosan, Carlos person
associatedWith Bulosan, Carlos. person
correspondedWith González, N. V. M., 1915-1999 person
correspondedWith José, F. Sionil (Francisco Sionil), 1924- person
correspondedWith Ko, Wŏn person
correspondedWith Norodom Sihanouk, Prince, 1922- person
correspondedWith Pak, Gary, 1952- person
correspondedWith Pak, Ty person
correspondedWith Pak, Ty person
associatedWith Solberg, S. E.  (Sammy Edward),  1930-2005 person
associatedWith Sumida, Stephen H. person
associatedWith University of Washington Press. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Washington. University Archives. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Cambodia
Washington (State)--Seattle
Cambodia
Subject
Korean literature--Study and teaching
Authors, Filipino--20th century--Correspondence
Koreanists--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
College teachers--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
American literature--Asian American authors--Study and teaching
Koreanists--Archives
Publishers and Publishing
College teachers--Archives
Colleges and Universities
Literature
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1930

English,

French,

Central Khmer,

Korean

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