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Cookbook Pornography, Assimilation and the Immigrant Story: Challenging Asian American Literary Conventions

ENGL 272.401
instructor(s):
TR 1:30-3

Why does Asian American literature paint such familiar pictures - the rise from rags to riches, struggles for "cultural blending," the sentimental mother-daughter story, and exoticized portraits of food and cultural practices? In this course we will read a selection of novels, poetry, non-fiction, and drama to examine what kind of forms and themes have become conventional in Asian American literature. We will examine the social impact of such forms with attention to extra-literary pressures on the authors. How does the particular socio-historical moment influence the kind of stories that are produced? Is there a difference between literature published by large, mainstream publishers and small, non-profit houses? We will look at texts that contest as well as adhere to these forms with attention to "reading between the lines" of seemingly conventional stories. Authors may include Amy Tan, Frank Chin, Frances Chung, Carlos Bulosan, Monica Sone, and Chang-rae Lee.