E 397M • Comparative Approaches to African-American and Asian-American Literature
5:00 PM-6:30 PM
This class examines the intersections between African American and Asian American literary traditions in the twentieth century. Our focus will be on the myriad ways that African Americans and Asian Americans have responded textually to the nation's persistent and complex juxtaposition of the two groups as a means of preserving a racially exclusive American identity. We will analyze the ways that authors stage the Afro-Asian encounter, the multitude of aesthetic and political purposes it serves, and the historical context that informs the dynamics behind that representation. Rather than attempting to account for the interrelationship over the course of 100 years, this class instead focuses on a few key historical moments when African American and Asian American interests collided and when the Afro-Asian relationship seemed particularly fraught. Finally, another important purpose of the class will be to explore the methodological issues that this kind of comparative work raises. Some questions we might consider: What kinds of theoretical approaches are useful in reading minority literatures in relation to each other? What does it mean to do comparative ethnic critical work that is both responsible and rigorous? In performing comparative ethnic criticism, how do we avoid falling into what one critic has called a reductive "logic ofsimilarity"?
Possible Primary Texts Frank Chin, The Chickencoop Chinaman;W. E. B. Du Bois, Selected Essays and Dark Princess; Gish Jen, Mona in the Promised Land; Yusef Komunyakaa, Dien Cai Dau; Don Lee, Country of Origin; Gary Phillips, Violent Spring; Anna Deveare Smith, Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992; Elizabeth Wong, Kimchee and Chitlins; Richard Wright, The Color Curtain; Hisaye Yamamoto, "Fire in Fontana"; Karen Tei Yamashita, Tropic of Orange Possible Secondary Texts (excerpts) Anne Cheng, The Melancholy of Race; Ian Haney-Lopez, White by Law; Raphael-Hernandez Heike and Shannon Steen (eds.), Afroasian Encounters; Daniel Kim, Writing Masculinity in Black and Yellow; James Lee, Urban Triage; George Lipsitz, The Possessive Investment > in Whiteness; Bill Mullen, Afro-Orientalism; Michael Omi and Howard Winant, Racial Formation in the United States; Vijay Prashad, Everybody Was Kung-fu Fighting; Min Song, Strange Future: Pessimism and the 1992 Los Angeles Riots; Frank Wu, Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White