Introduction to Asian American Literature: Identity and Beyond
This class offers a general introduction to Asian American literature from the pre-W.W.II era to the present. We will explore the fundamental questions of Asian American identity (Who is an Asian American? Who is an Asian American writer? What makes a text Asian American?) through fiction and non-fiction with close attention to how the subject is shaped by her socio-historical context. We will explore major themes like assimilation, racism, community and segregation through authors who present diverse and often contentious positions on these issues and examine the literary strategies they deploy to introduce these themes into popular American consciousness. We will also attempt to understand Asian American identity beyond a cultural understanding (Who am I?) and as a politicized subject position that instigates social change (What can I do?). Authors tentatively include Eric Liu, Maxine Hong Kingston, Monica Sone, Lois Ann Yamanaka, Vijay Prashad, Chang-rae Lee and a selection of Southeast Asian American writers.