Does Asian American literature exist? How can this geo-political term be used as a category for poetry, novels, and short stories by authors from such culturally diverse Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, Pakistani, (and other eastern) heritages and histories? To explore the case for a cohesive body of Asian American literature, this course introduces students to themes and forms of what has come to be known as Asian American literature from the mid-twentieth century to the present. We practice close reading while discussing and writing about how these literary works challenge U.S. ideologies such as the melting pot and the American dream as they dramatize Asian American exclusion, incarceration, labor exploitation, discrimination, and diaspora. We will focus especially on coming-of-age stories and lyric poems, exploring their portrayal of familial strife between first and second-generation immigrants and how conflicts also occur within individuals: children are torn internally between their dual cultures while parents feel they are living in the west in body and east in mind. Throughout the semester, our close readings will illuminate how characters’ difficulties with national identity intersect with struggles concerning their assigned gender, sexuality, class, or religion, deepening their sense of public alienation and otherness.
- Marylou Gramm
Number of Credits