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History, Community, and Genre in Asian American Lit.

ENGL 285.402
instructor(s):
MWF 11

This advanced seminar will explore the formal and stylistic strategies that Asian American writers have developed in their attempts to write out of buried histories and segregated communities. The difficulties entailed in these efforts are signaled by the multiple generic crossings of many Asian American texts, blurring fiction with history, myth and autobiography, sociology and story-telling. While Asian American writers are inspired by modernist and postmodernist experimentation with writing and textuality, their aesthetics is also shaped by the struggle to bring into representation those aspects of Asian American subjectivity, history, and community that have been excluded by western forms, genres, and styles. We will also examine the unwieldy collectivity that is "Asian America," and ask how it is that ethnic subjects from disparate linguistic, cultural, and national traditions can speak to one another. What are the points of commonality that bind these texts together into a literature that can be called "Asian American"? As a seminar, we will operate mostly by discussion. Some familiarity with Asian American literature and history would be helpful, but is not required. Class readings will probably include: John Okada, No-No Boy; Hisaye Yamamoto, Seventeen Syllables; Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior; Frank Chin, The Chinaman Pacific & Frisco R.R. Co.; Kim Ronyoung, Clay Walls; Lois-Ann Yamanaka, Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre; Theresa Hak-Kyung Cha, Dict´┐Że; Jesssica Hagedorn, Dogeaters; Bienvenidos Santos, Scent of Apples; Sara Suleri, Meatless Days; and Sucheng Chan, Asian Americans: An Interpretive History. Course requirements will include a class presentation, 2 short papers and one long paper.