Topics in Asian American Literature: Asians in Hollywood
This course will track the appearance of Asians in the grand Hollywood picture. We will open with DeMille's The Cheat and Griffith's Broken Blossoms as foundations for sinister and sympathetic representations. From these early portraits, we will go on to consider the curiously absent presence of Asians in the practice of yellowface. We will then examine a range of evocations of absence and presence from the crucially missing Japanese in Bad Day at Black Rock to the song-and-dance heralding of Chinese Americans in Flower Drum Song. We will watch some later controversial portrayals as well, including Cimino's Year of the Dragon and Stone's Heaven on Earth. The course will close with an escape from Hollywood with one experimental Asian American film. To accompany each of the films, we will read critical essays in order to inquire into the significance of a persistent absence and the perils of representing Asian American presences in American cinema. Course requirements: short response papers, in-class presentation, and a final research paper.