In recent years, American culture has been filled with Asian images, objects, and cultural practices. New Jackie Chan and Jet Li movies appear regularly, Asian American characters have appeared on TV shows as various as Survivor and Ally McBeal, Disney's Mulan featured a Chinese heroine, and Asian sports figures like Yao Ming and Ichiro Suzuki have generated considerable public attention.
This course seeks to explore Asian American culture, in part as a means of complicating our notions of race and ethnicity in American culture. We will begin by looking at various representations of Asians and Asian Americans in popular culture, thinking about the implications and assumptions behind those images. Next, we will examine a wide range of written and visual texts about, and for the most part produced by, Asian Americans as we work to complicate these pop cultural representations. One important question for the course will be where Asian Americans fit into a racial system often dominated by concerns about the relationship between blacks and whites. This is an analytical writing course which requires a substantial amount of reading and writing: five major papers and a number of shorter writings. We will look at several short stories and essays, a novel, and several films in our exploration of Asian American culture.