Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Asian American Survey

ENGL 072.401
instructor(s):
MWF 2

This course will present an overview of Asian American literature by situating it in the context of Asian American history. We will explore the ways in which Asian American writers treat such issues as racial/ethnic identity; immigration and assimilation; gender; class; sexuality; nationalism; culture and community; history and memory. We will trace the development of Asian American identity up to the social movements of the 60s and 70s, and then go on to look at the challenges to narrow, East Asia-centric definitions of Asian American identity posed by the influx of new South and Southeast Asian immigrant groups, and the rise of the feminist and lesbian and gay rights movements. Finally, we will raise the question of imperialism and geopolitics, and their effects upon Asian communities in the US. From the US annexation of Hawaii and the Philippines at the turn of the century, to the Japanese colonization of Korea and the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, and on to the Cold War and the rise of various Asian nations in the global capitalist economy, shifting international relations of power have affected both interethnic dynamics among Asian American groups as well as their positions in American society. Although the reading list has not been finalized, authors will likely include Hisaye Yamamoto, Bienvenido Santos, Carlos Bulosan, John Okada, Maxine Hong Kingston, Frank Chin, Kim Ronyoung, Le Ly Hayslip, Kirin Narayan, Bharati Mukherjee, Chitra Divakaruni, Lois-Ann Yamanaka, and various selections in a course reader.