INTRO TO ASIAN AMERICAN LITERATURE
How does "Asian American" operate as a highly contested category of ethnic and national identity? This course examines literature, film, and critical essays by contemporary Asian American writers in order to examine the development of Asian America as a literary field. While the course covers a diverse range of Asian immigrant histories, we will pay specific attention to the formation of Asian American subjectivities across axes of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class. Readings will be organized both chronologically and in response to a series of thematic issues, including:
The objective of this class is to examine the literary formation and political import of the category "Asian American". The novels, short stories, plays and films we will study in this class map an ongoing movement in Asian American studies from domesticated narratives of immigrant assimilation towards increasingly transnational categories of nationhood and citizenship.
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictee
Frank Chin, Chickencoop Chinaman and the Year of the Dragon
David Henry Hwang, M. Butterfly
Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior
Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies
Chang-Rae Lee, Native Speaker
Lisa Lowe, Immigrant Acts
Bharati Mukherjee, Jasmine
Monica Truong, The Book of Salt
Lois-Ann Yamanaka, Blu's Hanging
All readings marked (+) are available on Blackboard under "Course Documents".
All required textbooks and films are on course reserve at McCabe Library.
Course Assignments and Requirements
We will be reading, on average, one literary text per week for this class. Each Tuesday, I will begin our discussion of the novel, play, critical essays, etc with a brief synopsis and provide topics for discussion. Each Thursday, we will conclude our discussion of the novel with a class discussion facilitated by a student. As such, your oral participation in class is as equally important as your written assignments.
Each of you will be required to make at least one in-class presentation during the course of the semester. In addition to a brief synopsis of the readings, you are responsible for generating questions for discussion and, if you'd like, organizing a group project (small group discussions, role-playing, etc). Your presentation should be 20 - 30 minutes long. Use this opportunity to extend some of the conversations that we have been having in class, or raise new topics of discussion. Please feel free to come by my office hours to discuss your presentation further.
I will provide 3 questions for the mid-term exam, from which you should respond to 1. The mid-term will be a take-home essay exam, of 6-8 pages in length.
The final 12 page paper will be on any aspect of Asian American studies, with reference to at least two literary or cinematic texts that we have discussed in class. I will schedule a deadline for project proposals, as well as additional office hours towards the end of the semester, for each of you to discuss your proposed topics with me.
This class will operate only through your consistent attendance and sustained participation in class. Any more than two unexcused absences will result in a lower grade.
All written assignments are due at the beginning of each class. All deadlines are strictly adhered to; no extensions or incompletes will be given. Late papers will be marked down each day that they are late (thus, a B instead of a B+).
The total course grade will be calculated through general class participation (10%), the mid-term examination (25%), in-class presentations (30%), and the final paper (35%). Incompletes will not be accepted, and final grades are not negotiable.
8/31 Historical Formations of Asian America
9/14 Fictions of Immigration
9/21 Memory and Migration
9/28 Asian American Sexualities
10/5 Orientalizing the Orient
10/8-10/18 FALL BREAK
10/19 Mid-Term Essays Due
10/26 Geographies of Violence
11/2 Native Tongues
11/9 Postcolonial Asian America
11/25 Thanksgiving Break
11/30 (Trans)national Narratives
Final Papers Due Tuesday Dec. 14 at 5pm