East Asian Languages & Cultures | Asian-Americans: Culture & Identity
E350 | 1525 | 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.