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Elizabeth Cullingford, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Sheela Jane Menon

E 314V • Asian American Lit & Culture

35125 • Fall 2014
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am MEZ 1.202
(also listed as AAS 314 )
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Fall 2014 – E 314V / AAS 314

Asian American Literature & Culture

Sheela Jane Menon •

Flags: Cultural Diversity in the U.S. and Writing



As the United States slowly emerges from the global recession of 2009, debates over immigration, the debt ceiling, education, and development loom large. In many, if not all, of these areas different minority populations bear the burden of changing policies and budgets, even as their labor and cultural production continue to sustain the nation. The 2012 US Census reported that Asians were the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States that year, rising from 530,000 in 2011 to almost 19 million in 2012. As a population that has made and continues to make significant contributions to the American economy and American culture more broadly, Asian Americans face an ongoing struggle to assert a sense of belonging in the United States. As a community and as individuals, they must continually negotiate the tensions between life in the United States and ties to their “cultural homelands.” The intersection of “American culture” and “Asian culture” is further complicated by assumptions about how Asian Americans are or are not “at home” in the United States.

This course will explore how Asian American literature attempts to negotiate these tensions. Through a close reading of selected 20th and 21st century Asian American literature, this course will analyze how Asian Americans have worked to resist their exclusion from American culture and politics. We will attempt to unpack the ways in which literary texts assert belonging, negotiate the immigrant experience, and balance the demands of different cultural traditions. In the process, this course will also explore the very definition of “Asian American,” considering the communities that are included and excluded from this collective. In doing so, we will pay close attention to the socio-political histories that inform this category, as well as how the experiences of Asian Americans are shaped by citizenship, class, gender, and sexuality. Various critical perspectives – such as post-colonialism, US legal history, feminism, and popular culture – will inform our readings and analyses.

Over the course of the semester, students will complete four short reading responses, two short essays, and a final essay, in addition to in-class assignments and quizzes. This course carries both a writing flag and a cultural diversity flag.


Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior (1976)

John Okada, No-no Boy (1979)

Lois-Ann Yamanaka, Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre (1993)

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, selections from Arranged Marriage (1995)

Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Joss & Gold (2001)

Don Lee, selections from Yellow (2002)

Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake (2003)

Monique Truong, Bitter in the Mouth (2010)

R. Zamora Linmark, Leche (2011)


Assistant Instructor, RHE 306: Rhetoric & Writing

    Fall 2013 - Spring 2014

Teaching Assistant, E316K: Masterworks of American Literature

     Dr. Phil Barrish, Summer 2013

Senior Teaching Assistant, E347L: Young Adult Fiction & Film

     Dr. Domino Perez, Spring 2013

Teaching Assistant, E316K: Masterworks of American Literature

     Dr. Jennifer Wilks, Fall 2012

Teaching Assistant, E316K: Masterworks of American Literature

     Dr. John González, Summer 2012

Teaching Assistant, E316K: Masterworks of British Literature

     Dr. Douglas Bruster, Spring 2012

Teaching Assistant, E376M: Illustrating African American Literature

     Dr. Meta Jones, Spring 2012

Teaching Assistant, E316K: Masterworks of British Literature

     Dr. Douglas Bruster, Fall 2011

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