Asian American Literature

English 372 / Asian American Literature: Architexts: Plays, Performance, Film (DL)(WI & O foci)

TR 12-1:15 pm / Professor R. Hsu / Office: KUY 512 /


This course focuses on the work of playwrights, artists, architects, and filmmakers of Asian ancestry, who live primarily in North America and who engage thoughtfully and playfully with the many complex and varied versions of “America” and “American identity”. These artists frequently also draw from multiple cultural and historical heritages beyond those of North America.

The reading list consists of innovative, convention-busting, and avant-garde Asian American cultural texts. We’ll look at excerpts from novels on the turbulent and transformational 1960’s, the Civil Rights Movement, architecture that have fundamentally changed the topographical discourse of the United States, and award-winning, non-linear, and polyvocal plays and films –both comedy and tragedy—that redefine what it means to fully engage artistically and experientially with the socio-cultural and political realities of the US.

This class will be primarily a large- and small-group discussion class. Films must be viewed outside of classroom sessions.

Required assignments include:        completing reading assignments; a bi-weekly blog post on the reading assignments; short papers; 5 to 10-minite class presentations; one research-based essay

Required texts include:

Aziz Ansari, Master of None (1 or 2 episodes of season 1)

Asian American Artists (via Smithsonian Institute)

Madeleine Hsu, Asian American History: A Very Short Introduction.

Ang Lee, Wedding Banquet; Brokeback Mountain (films)

Josephine Lee, editor. Asian American Plays for a New Generation.

Justin Lin, Better Luck Tomorrow. (film)

Karen Tei Yamashita, Anime Wong. Fictions of Performance. (plays, performance pieces)

Wayne Wang. Joy Luck Club and Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart (films)

A course package to be purchased consisting of plays and essays selected from anthologies and journals,

Student Learning Outcomes (SLO):

  • Gain an understanding of shared themes as well as the heterogeneity of Asian American plays, films, and art;
  • Gain an understanding of the ways that Asian American cultural texts and identity transform, complement and otherwise engage with differing “Americas”;
  • Enhance the ability to think, to discuss and to write independently about literary and cultural texts.