student annotations of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha‘s Dictee.

ASA 347: “The Asian American Family” Fall 2018


Criticism and Theory: Racial Capitalism

Fall 2023 | Graduate Seminar | Syllabus [PDF]

What is the “racial” in racial capitalism? The question is posed by abolitionist scholar Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and we’ll take it up by exploring how cultural texts (literature, media, art) supply an exemplary analytic on capitalism’s racial logics. It’s easy enough to read texts for descriptions of racial capitalism. The more difficult task resides in developing a reflexive mode of criticism capable of grasping the mediation between race and capital that the form of the texts themselves enacts. To do this, we’ll learn from Black, Asian American, and Indigenous studies; Marxist aesthetic theory; & feminist, anticolonial, environmental critiques of capitalism.

Sample reading list:
  • Marx, Capital Vol 1 (Chapters 25-33)
  • Cedric Robinson, Black Marxism
  • Ian Baucom, Specters of the Atlantic: Finance Capital, Slavery, and the Philosophy of History
  • Jodi Byrd, The Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism
  • Neferti Tadiar, Remaindered Life
  • Sylvia Wynter, Essays on Decolonization, 1967-1984

By application only. We’ll test arguments by consulting the literary cases ourselves. Additional readings may include W.E.B. Du Bois, Stuart Hall, Jairus Banaji, Nikhil Pal Singh, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Radhika Desai, Colleen Lye, Jodi Kim, Robert Nichols, and Patrick Wolfe. The seminar will host a parallel colloquium/reading group, with guest speakers, devoted to close readings of Chapters 25-33 of Marx's Capital

Literary Form, Social Process: A Graduate Seminar in Marxist Aesthetic Theory

Spring 2022 | syllabus

Literary form, social process—how, exactly, do we read and move from one to the other? What forms of knowledge and scales of textual analysis does a reflexive reading of the literary and the social enable? Through a focused survey of Marxist aesthetic theory, this course engages students in the problem of "mediation"—understood expansively as the dialectic between literature and reality, form and history, and aesthetics and politics. We will read canonical as well as recent historical materialist approaches to race, genre, empire, and other world systems to develop interdisciplinary tools for writing about economic mediations of culture.

Graduate students will have the opportunity to test seminar ideas and methods in relation to the archives of their projects. If you are a literature student who wants to design a dissertation that engages with a non-literary discipline (history, political economy, etc.), this is a good course for you.

Asian American Literature and Culture

Spring 2021

What is the relationship between race and genre? Through a survey of major works and debates in Asian American literature, this course examines how writers employ a variety of generic forms--novels, comics, memoirs, film, science fiction--to address issues of racial and ethnic identity, gender, queerness, memory, immigration, and war. By placing racial formation in relation to social, economic, and intellectual developments, we will explore the potential of literary texts to deepen our historical understanding of Asians in the U.S. and beyond, and probe into what labeling a work of literature as "Asian American" allows us to know and do.

ASA 224 / ENG 224 / GSS 226

Model Minority Fictions

Fall 2020

Where did the stereotype of Asian Americans as model minorities—overachieving whiz kids, industrious workers, “tiger mothers,” “crazy rich” Asians—come from? What accounts for the model minority myth’s persistence today? How has its representational scheme changed over time? Does model minoritism have a literary (and not only social) history? By reading across fiction, visual culture, and economic history, this seminar traces the changing definitions of Asians in the US from “yellow peril” to model minorities: from the myth’s wartime origins, to the birth of American neoliberalism, and onward to the global rise of Asia in the 21st century.

ASA 324 / AMS 324 / ENG 244

Global Novel

Fall 2019, Spring 2022

What happens to narrative when writers aspire to write the world? How has globalization transformed not only the way novels are produced but also the internal form of the works themselves? We'll read novels that overtly strive for a fuller picture of some social or conceptual whole (e.g., migration, climate change, labor, the Internet), especially where they thematize the impossibility of such a project. Students will learn interdisciplinary methods for reading literature's relation to society by examining how writers play with scale, link parts to wholes, and provincialize worlds while rendering the seemingly provincial or mundane worldly.

ENG 444 / ASA 444 / AMS 443

Introduction to Asian American Studies

Spring 2019, Fall 2021 (syllabus)

This course surveys critical themes in the interdisciplinary field of Asian American studies, including perspectives from history, literature, sociology, and gender and sexuality studies. It develops an account of Asian racialization beyond the black-white binary in the context of US war and empire in Asia and the Pacific Islands, settler colonialism, globalization, migration, and popular culture. Who or what is an “Asian American”? How have conceptions of Asian America changed over time? How do cultural forms such as literature and film add to an understanding of Asian American identity as a historically dynamic process and social relation?

ASA 201

The Asian American Family

Fall 2018

This seminar examines the emergence and transformation of the Asian American family as a social form. We will investigate how US labor demands and legal restrictions on immigration and citizenship militated against the formation of Asian American families, and how paper sons, military wives, refugees, adoptees, and LGBT family experiences eluded norms of kinship. We will also study the significance of the intergenerational trope in Asian American literature, and how writers responded to neoliberalism's remaking of the "Asian" family according to the model minority myth.

ASA 347 / AMS 347 / ENG 426 / GSS 358