Asian American Lit (XL ES 372)

Through a
variety of novels, short stories, poems, and performances, this course will
introduce students to the history of Asians in the United States with a focus
on the post-World War II period to today.These texts will familiarize students
with the general debates within Asian American literary studies and by
extension, ethnic American literary studies. Following the history and trajectory
of Asian American literary study, we will look at the assigned texts through three broad lenses: 1) concerns of assimilation and alienation 2) issues of
cultural nationalism and pan-identity 3) the effects of globalization and
transnationalism. This broad framework will allow us to explore the definitions
and debates over key words and concepts that are associated with Asian/ethnic
studies and delve into other important social, cultural, economic, and
political influences that have factored into the Asian American experience.
Moreover, in considering artistic choices in each text, we examine how Asian American
experiences are represented and why they are represented in that way. At the
end of the course, students will come away with a
sense of how complicated and fraught the simple combination of “Asian” and
“American” is.

Although this is not a WI class, students can still expect regular writing
assignments in the form of blogs, responses, and short papers. There will also
be quizzes, a mid-term, and a final. You will be responsible for a class
presentation and, perhaps most importantly, an active, engaged, and collegial
presence in the classroom. Attendance will be closely monitored.

Reading list (texts will be made available through Revolution Books): Carlos
Bulosan’s AMERICA IS IN THE HEART, John Okada’s NO-NO BOY, Maxine Hong
Kingston’s THE WOMAN WARRIOR, David Henry Hwang’s M. BUTTERFLY, Nora Okja
Keller’s FOX GIRL, Shailja Patel’s MIGRITUDE. Documentaries and movies that
will be shown in class include: WHO KILLED VINCENT CHIN? (1988) and BETTER LUCK
SLANTED SCREEN (2006) and shorter YouTube clips. Additional critical and
theoretical readings and shorter fictional pieces by Edward Said, Lisa Lowe,
Fred Ho, Jessica Hagedorn, Jhumpa Lahiri, Gish Jen and others will be made
available through Laulima.