East Asian Languages & Cultures | Asian Americans: Conflict and Identity
E385 | 1623 | Robinson


This course will seek to build an understanding of the historical, cultural,
sociological, and racial dynamics behind the evolution of contemporary Asian
American identity.  As the designation implies, Asian American identity is a
combination of two traditions.  We will study the roots of "Asian-ness" and
critique its singular focus by seeing "difference" within the Asian American
community, its Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and South Asian origins.  This
course will also study the gaps between prevailing stereotypes of Asian
Americans and the wide range of experiences and identifications expressed in
Asian American literature, journalism, and contemporary film.  The sources
for our study will be novels, film, and essays that focus on Asian American
experience from the late 19th century to the present.  Key to the success of
this course will be students' work on refining their own understanding of
the major components of cultural and political identity formation.  Thus, in
studying the evolution of Asian American culture and identity, we will also
be gaining a deeper understanding of how ethnicity, race, and politics
operate in contemporary American culture itself.  Too often the public
discourse on race and ethnicity in American operates from simplistic
assumptions that to become American means a fundamental effacement of
original ethnic difference.  This course will focus on how cultural identity
develops nuances and complexity in its negotiations between the powerful
forces of race, power, and class in American society.

Lectures, reading, film viewing, and class discussions will be used as the
basis for our writing exercises. There will be three short essays (3-5
pages), and perhaps four or more "exercises" (1-2 pages) that will include
summaries, reviews, editorials, or an op/ed page simulation.  There will
also be a final essay examination. Points, weighted to the importance of the
assignment, will be assigned to each exercise, and student performance will
be judged on overall scores while considering student participation and
input to class discussions.