Seminar in Asian American Literature and Theory: Asian American Liberatory Futures


ENG 735Q(001): Seminar in Asian American Literature and Theory: Asian American Liberatory Futures

Instructor: Candace Fujikane

Time: M 6:00-8:30

Crn: 87846



Course description:

Since their origins at the intersection of global and domestic struggles for liberation, Asian American literature and theory have engaged in a project of imagining liberatory futures—anti-racist, decolonial, queer, non-binary futurities which are premised on a future beyond capital. We will begin by mapping out the intersectionality of discursive problems and material conditions Asian Americans have faced through the critical lens of the critical Marxist studies, critical ethnic studies, diaspora studies, Indigenous studies, gender and queer studies, globalization studies, media studies, cultural studies and critical cartography studies.

            We will then move on to analyzing the transformative ways that Asian American writers, critics and artists have rearticulated these issues. How do writers and critics imagine decolonial and abolitionist Asian American futures, and how do those articulations change our present conditions?  How do Asian American writers and artists draw from Indigenous and Marxist critiques of capital to imagine new possible futures? How do they imagine queer kinships, temporalities and futurities? How do our alliances with Blacks in the Black Lives Matter movement, with Chicanx and Latinx against anti-migrant settler state policies, and with Native Americans, Kanaka Maoli and Palestinians who challenge the very foundations of the US settler state enable us expand our imaginative capacities? How do they enact in the present an epistemological shift that seeks to ensure a planetary future in the face of global climate change? We will discuss the genres of apocalpytic, utopic, and speculative fiction, magical realism, ecopoetics, romance and allegory, as well as different epistemological foundations, such as Indigenous and Asian ancestral knowledges, interspecies worlding, and new materialisms that help us to broaden the conditions of possibility for future worlds where we can all flourish.


Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs): 

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) include an awareness of the contributions of Asian American literature and theory to the formation of the contemporary field of English Studies—including such subfields as twentieth century American literature, ethnic literature, rhetoric, cultural studies, indigenous land-based literacy and visual literacy—an understanding of advanced research methods, written and oral ability to place one’s own scholarly work within broader critical conversations, independent research using primary and secondary sources.


Meeting synchronously


Required Texts:

Maxine Hong Kingston, Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book (1990)

Karen Tei Yamashita, Through the Arc of the Rainforest (1986)

  1. Zamora Linmark, Leche (2011)

Ken Liu, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories (2016)

Ocean Vuong, On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous (2019)

Cathy Schlund Vials, ed., Flashpoints for Asian American Studies (2017)    

Lisa Lowe, Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (2012)

Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu, Experiments in Skin: Race and Beauty in The Shadows of Vietnam (2021)

Erin Suzuki, Ocean Passages: Navigating Pacific Islander and Asian American Literatures

Candace Fujikane, Mapping Abundance for a Planetary Future: Kanaka Maoli and Critical Settler Cartographies in Hawaiʻi (2020)


Other essays will be posted on Laulima, including works by Mel Chen, Kekuhi Kealiʻikanakaʻolehaililani, Diane Fujino, Eve Tuck, kuʻualoha hoʻomanawanui, Joy Enomoto, Julie Sze, Martin Joseph Ponce, Khalil Anthony Johnson, Jr., Monisha Das Gupta, Evyn Lê Espiritu Gandhi, Yen Lê Espiritu, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Tiffany King, Dean Saranillio, Aimee Bahng, Nitasha Sharma, Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, Leanne Betasamosako Simpson, selections from Diasporic Intimacies: Queer Filipinos and Canadian Imaginaries and others.



—Short 5-page paper on a problem in Asian American literary and cultural studies and ways that writers, artists or critic imagine futurities beyond that problem (15%), This paper can be used in the final project.

—Short 5-page paper that considers in depth the ways that a particular writer or critic is articulating a futurity and an argument about the way that writer can expand on that project (20%). This paper can be used as part of the final project

—One 10-minute presentation on a reading assignment (10%)

—One 10-minute presentation on the final project (not graded)

—one-page project proposal that outlines the objectives of the seminar paper with a bibliography of at least ten entries (15%)

—20-page seminar paper (40%)

—attendance and participation