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Asian American Literature

ENGL 595.401
instructor(s):
W 3-6:00

In the last half of the 20th century, the category of Asian American has become a crucial index of the contradictions of globalization and racialization in American society. A heterogeneous grouping, "Asian Americans" are produced through the confluence of various histories of Western imperialism, global capitalism, labor migration, class struggle and the historical transformations of the US racial formation. This class will provide a basic introduction to postcolonial and postmodern theory, as well as to Asian American literature, but more importantly, it will seek to ground the theory in the particular context of Asian American communities and culture in order to investigate the utility and/or limits of certain theoretical formulations for understanding the specific contours of Asian American cultural production. As a first world racial minority, Asian Americans are tangential to both postcolonial frameworks of decolonization and neo-imperialism, and postmodern theorizations of late capitalism, globalization, and transnationalism. To center Asian Americans in these theoretical models is to shift the critical perspective in such a way as to draw attention to the margins of these paradigms and to what is excluded from them. The list of primary works may include writing by Carlos Bulosan, John Okada, Jessica Hagedorn, Maxine Hong Kingston, Frank Chin, Karen Tei Yamashita, Hisaye Yamamoto, Bienvenido Santos, Ginu Kamani, and Bharati Mukherjee. We will also read critical work by Gayatri Spivak, Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, Fredric Jameson, David Harvey, Stuart Hall, Lisa Lowe, and David Palumbo-Liu, among others. There will be several short papers and a final research paper, as well as class presentations.