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Topics in Asian American Literature

ENGL 272.401
instructor(s):
MWF 2

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. We will read such authors as Carlos Bulosan, Maxine Hong Kingston, Frank Chin, Lois-Ann Yamanaka, Theresa Hak-Kyung Cha, Jessica Hagedorn, Ginu Kamani, Fae Myenne Ng, and Shawn Wong.

Mark Chiang
English & Asian American Studies
University of Pennsylvania
119 Bennett Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6273
Phone: (215) 898-6211
Fax: (215) 573-2063
Email: mchiang@dept.english.upenn.edu