Topics in English and American Literature


What does it mean to use "Asian American" as a descriptor for a person, group formation, set of issues and interests, academic field, or a piece of work? Most commonly today, this rubric serves as a self-evident demographic category that indicates one's ethnicity as being "of Asian descent." Largely forgotten are its origins in the radical social movements of the 1960s, when student activists coined the term as a political identity. Challenging the derogatory term "Oriental," which homogenized all Asians as alien and foreign, "Asian American" as a political stance asserted a claim to national belonging while simultaneously critiquing structural racism at home and forms of imperialism abroad. For these activists, arts and literature were central to the political work of both elucidating histories of exclusion, whereby Asian bodies were constructed as America's alien other, and charting alternative radical visions of a more socially just nation. Accordingly, against dominant modes that read Asian American literary texts as ethnographic accounts of reified "Asian cultural difference," this course analyzes the intellectual, artistic, and activist work enacted by these writings in theorizing the exclusionary mechanisms of citizenship and formulating collective forms of interracial solidarity. The course will feature a number of classic alongside more recently published texts-novels, short stories, poems, and plays-by Asian American writers such as David Henry Hwang, Maxine Hong Kingston, Jhumpa Lahiri, Karen Tei Yamashita, and Ocean Vuong. Satisfies the Twentieth Century and later requirement. This course may fulfill the global or minority literatures requirement for students who declare an English major in the fall 2021 semester and beyond.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU Hum; AS HUM; FA HUM; AR HUM; EL TC; EL GML

Section 01

Topics in English and American Literature
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