English R1A

Reading and Composition: Asian American Women Writers Across Genre

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
5 Spring 2022 Kao, Libby
MWF 1-2 204 Dwinelle

Book List

Faizullah, Tarfia: Seam; Hong, Cathy Park: Minor Feelings; Joseph, Janine: Driving Without a License; Kingston, Maxine Hong: The Woman Warrior; Miller, Chanel: Know My Name; Shah, Sejal: This is One Way to Dance


What do writings by Asian American* women** have to tell us about emotional labor, transnational intimacies, and hope?

This question serves as the organizing frame for our semester's exploratory journey of critical thinking. We will do our best to situate readings in the broader (immeasurable) aesthetic and political traditions of Asian American history, literature, and culture, but our more urgent focus will be on how to read for, with, and through these three ideas—emotional labor, transnational intimacies, hope—in turn. 

Along the way, we will define what these terms mean, while grounding ourselves in anti-racist, decolonial, intersectional feminist thought. What do we mean by emotional labor—a term first coined by sociologist Arlie Hochschild, neighbor to the Marxist concept of affective labor, crucial to the burgeoning field of affect theory? Transnational intimacies between whom, what, where; and what are these intimacies interrupted or sustained by? How do we responsibly and imaginatively read for hope in literature?

You will build your own theory of these ideas by engaging them across a range of genres we'll traverse and problematize together: the novel, the essay, poetry, memoir, the short story, journalism/ethnography. These aims go hand in hand with the writing-intensive objectives of this R1A composition course: close reading, asking good questions, purposeful discussion — which open up into the argumentation, development, and revision of analytical writing. 

* "Asian American" as shorthand for a much more capacious category, to which Asian North American and the Asian Anglophone are essential.

** "Women" inclusively construed; while trans studies/method is beyond the scope of this class, we will make space for it when exploring questions of gender, sexuality, and identity.

(Note: Please do not buy books until after the first week of class, as the book list may change.)

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