The initial subjects of Asian American studies in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s were defined as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, and Filipino communities in the U.S. (Elaine Kim, Reading the Literatures of Asian America), but the label “Asian American,” as we shall study in this class, is no longer limited to such identities. We will interrogate the shifting definitions of “Asian” and “American” in recent decades. Starting with early Asian American immigrant texts and moving toward the transnational contemporary, this course examines a number of cultural texts (literary, cinematic, digital) to discuss questions of race, ethnicity, community, diaspora, and (dis)location in a global networked context.

Questions that we will attempt to answer include: How do you define “Asian American” when we consider the increasing porosity of national borders caused by imperialism, globalization, neoliberalzation and transnationalism? How do the words “home,” “guest,” “host” change due to migration, exile, and asylum? How do gender and class complicate the narratives? How do families, communities, and individuals adapt and change in the face of these shifts? What cultural forms and genres have been taken up and why?

We will discuss the cultural production of community and identity by examining a variety of texts from diverse various geographic and national sites. This class does not intend to be comprehensive nor exhaustive in representing Asian American diasporic texts, but will offer a review of Asian American studies and introduce students to, transnational and global studies, immigration studies, and theories of media and popular culture. Literature covered in this course will cover a range of genres and forms, including memoir, comics, magical realism, romance, comedy, and a variety of digital texts. There will be extensive critical and theoretical readings to accompany each primary text, and students will have the opportunity to lead classes in topic-specific lessons toward the end of the quarter.


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