Who or what is Asian American? What meanings does that term have? How does it operate as a descriptor to define a range of people of heterogeneous histories and cultural backgrounds? How is it defined and manifested in the realms of art, law, education and politics? In this course, we will explore the evolution of terms to define peoples of Asian descent in America and the corresponding creation of this fluid panethnic label of identification. By examining discrete moments in American history when the meaning of Asian American was contested we will examine the construction and ongoing legacy of this American identity.
The course will be highly interdisciplinary and include readings in literature, history, and law and involve archival research on local Asian American history. Most course meetings will involve group discussion of course materials. Coursework will include essays, research assignments, and group presentations. Instruction in writing will also be a major focus of the course.