Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Topics in Asian American

ENGL 272.910
TR 4:30-7:30

Cross-Listed with: ASAM 202.910
Many of us may understand Asian-American literature as shedding light on the basic questions: “Who is an Asian-American and what is s/he like?” and “What are the significant and peculiar events of Asian-American history and experiences?” These questions about identity and place of non-white subjects in America form the core of what we call “identity politics.” This course will challenge this reigning paradigm of how we understand Asian-American literature, focusing on the power of identity politics discourse to diminish and derail social critique. While Asian-American literature may be about discovering or developing the individual self, it can also be about historical and contemporary racial-economic exploitation and segregation. We will read these texts as calls to social action and activist potentialities rather than individualist meditations on stereotypes and selfhood. Paying close attention to the socio-historical contexts of the subjects’ formation. Course requirements include active class participation and two short papers. Authors studied include Eric Liu, Maxine Hong Kingston, Chang-rae Lee, Jeannie Barroga, Vijay Prashad, Fae Myenne Ng, Joy Kogawa and a selection of Southeast Asian-American writers.

fulfills requirements