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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2007

E 314V • Asian American Literature and Culture

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35030 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
par 304

Course Description

The purpose of this class is to explore how authors and cultural producers have imagined what it means to be "Asian American" over the course of the past century. To that end, we will read closely a broad range of literature, film, and critical essays with an eye toward contextualizing them in their historical, social, and cultural milieus. While the course covers a diverse range of Asian immigrant histories, we will pay close attention to the formation of Asian American subjectivities across axes of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, and citizenship. Readings will be organized chronologically and in response to a series of thematic issues. We will situate important themes in Asian American literature within a history of American domestic racial policies and foreign interventions.

Along with situating Asian American literature historically, this course will also introduce you to critical trends within the field of Asian American literature. Some of the questions we will address include: what constitutes Asian American literature and the Asian American literary canon? What sorts of formal practices do Asian American texts share with each other, if any? In what ways do Asian American texts reflect dominant social notions of racial identity, and in what ways do they contest those paradigms? How do these texts imagine the Asian American experience and what do they imagine being Asian American means?

Grading Policy

As much as possible, this class will be run in a seminar format. That means that I expect your oral and written commentary to be engaged with the material we are studying, both thematically and formally. You need to: (1) attend all classes; (2) talk during class, whether by asking a question, making a comment, or responding to another's remark; (3) arrive on time; (4) complete all required reading thoroughly; (5) bring the necessary papers and materials to class.

Class participation 10%
Midterm exam 20%
Essay 1, 5 pages 20%
Essay 2, 5 pages 25%
Final exam 25%


Jessica Hagedorn, Dogeaters (Penguin)
Joy Kogawa, Obasan (Anchor)
Fae Ng, Bone (Harper Perennial)
John Okada, No-No Boy (University of Washington Press)
Jade Snow Wong, Fifth Chinese Daughter (University of Washington Press)
Course reader


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