This course introduces students to literature from the Asian diaspora: the movement of people of Asian descent to places all over the world. Reading a range of historical to contemporary narratives and fiction produced by diasporic Asians across the globe, we will examine the conditions of physical and emotional dislocation, exile, return, alienation and loss but also, the pleasures of global mobility and privilege, intercultural contact, new identities and ways of being. Over the course of the semester, we will address the experiences of living and writing between Asia and the rest of the world. Depending on the course instructor and semester, different geographical routes and historical periods will be covered.
Depending on the course instructor and semester, different geographical routes, historical periods and list of readings will change. However, iterations of the course may cover the following topics: in addition to race and gender, critical understandings of diaspora; issues related to an Anglophone reading market; ideas of multiculturalism; “Coolitude” and labor; discrimination and violence; and ideas of an ‘Asian world future’.
At the end of this course a student will be able to:
- Demonstrate knowledge of a range of theoretical approaches to texts of the Asian diaspora.
- Analyze and critique literary, historical and cultural texts from a multicultural and global perspective.
- Develop critical and analytical skills via research, close-reading and textual analysis.
- Through active participation in discussion and listening, a student will gain the ability and language necessary to understand different possibilities and diverse perspectives both in the literature and amongst each other.
- Articulate and present their ideas through short written responses that can be developed into a longer paper; and strengthen writing and revision skills through regular feedback and guidance from the professor and from peer review.
3 hours a week. In order to explore the critical and cultural framework of these examples of contemporary literature, the session may consist of group and class discussion, mini-lectures, writing workshops, student-led presentations and other discussion-based activities. This course is discussion-based and can be reading intensive, so, to facilitate reading and preparation for class discussion, students may sometimes be provided with reading guides or questions. Students are encouraged to plan ahead – do not leave reading up to the last minute! Attendance is mandatory.
Assessment for the course is 100% coursework. This may be made up of:
- Class participation (includes attendance, group and class discussion, student-led presentations) (25%)
- A short, close-reading paper (25%)
- An individual documentary project (20%)
- A final research paper (30%)
Readings may include:
Jenny Zhang, Sour Heart (2017, short stories)
Adrian Tomine, Shortcomings (2009, graphic novel)
Randy Ribay, Patron Saints of Nothing (2019, YA fiction)
Nam Le, The Boat (2008, short stories)
Shaun Tan, The Arrival (2010, graphic novel)
Brian Castro, The Garden Book (2012)
Kristin Chen, Soy Sauce for Beginners (2014)
Cathy Park Hong, Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning (2020)
Avtah Brah, "Thinking through the Concept of Diaspora"
Ien Ang, On Not Speaking Chineses: Living Between Asia and the West (2005)
Stuart Hall, "Culture, Identity, and Diaspora"
Rey Chow, Writing Diaspora: Tactics of Intervention in Contemporary Cultural Studies (1993)
Aihwa Ong, Flexible Citizenship (1993)
Sze Wei Ang, State of Race, The: Asian/American Fiction after World War II (2019)