English 53

Asian American Literature and Culture: Voice, Text, Image

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2020 Leong, Andrew Way
TTh 2-3:30

Book List

Bui, Thi: The Best We Could Do; Yamashita, Karen Tei: I Hotel

Other Readings and Media

Other media and readings will be distributed via bCourses.


This is a lecture and discussion course that surveys early to contemporary Asian American literary and cultural production. We'll study the broad range of forms that have served as vehicles of Asian American political and cultural expression, including: political oratory, oral histories, folksongs, popular music, traditional and avant-garde poetry, short stories, novels, graphic memoirs, films, fashion blogs, and web videos. Our emphasis on “reading for form” is designed to provide a foundation for students who might be interested in taking additional (historical or special topics) courses in Asian American literature and culture. However, the course can also be taken as a stand-alone, as part of a broader program of study in comparative ethnic literatures, or as a gateway towards further studies in English-language literature. This course is especially suitable for students who have never taken a college-level literary or cultural studies course and would like additional time to practice class discussion and essay writing skills.

The course is divided into three parts: Voice, Text, and Image. In Part I, “Voice,” we will study Asian American speeches, oral histories and songs. We will work through a series of short assignments oriented towards oral recitation and preparation for class discussion. In Part II, “Text,” we will study Asian American poetry, short stories, and novels. In this segment of the course, we will practice techniques for close reading of printed texts. In Part III, “Image,” we will turn to the analysis of images of, or images produced by, Asian Americans in comics, film, and digital media. The assignments in Part III will turn to visual outlining and organization strategies for essay writing. The course will culminate in a 5-7 page final paper.

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