East Asian Languages and Cultures | Asian Americans: Cultural Conflict & Identity
E385 | 26242 | 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.