Fall 2023

Asian American and Pacific Islander Critiques

Listed in: English, as ENGL-291


Nozomi Nakaganeku Saito (Section 01)


This course introduces students to foundational texts in Asian American and Pacific Islander studies. By emphasizing Asian American and Pacific Islander, this course foregrounds the “and” as a necessary tension between two groups that have been differently racialized. Some questions that will orient our engagement with these fields include: How does literature shape ideas about what it means to be Asian American or Pacific Islander? What is the role of discourse in (en)gendering ideas about East/West, Asia, the Pacific, and Otherness? And what methods do scholars of Asian American and Pacific critique draw on to analyze complex systems of race, empire, militarism, settler colonialism, and capitalism? Taking seriously the Black feminist literary critic Barbara Christian’s argument that literature for people of color has often constituted a form of “theorizing,” we will pair works of critical theory (by Lisa Lowe, Colleen Lye, Edward Said, Anne Anlin Cheng, Jodi Kim, J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Teresia Teaiwa, Epeli Hau‘ofa, Haunani-Kay Trask, and more), with forms of literary theorizing—in novels, poetry, performances, and essays—by canonical and contemporary authors including Monique Truong, Jessica Hagedorn, Nora Okja Keller, Ocean Vuong, Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, Albert Wendt, Craig Santos Perez, Julian Aguon, and more.

At the end of the course, students will not only have a sense of how Asian American and Pacific studies complicate concepts of identity, belonging, and political power; they will also have an understanding of how those fields of study can help us “imagine otherwise,” as the critic Kandice Chuh puts it, moving us from the analysis of structures of power to creating possibilities for their transformation and reimagining.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Saito.

How to handle overenrollment: Preference will be given to English majors

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: weekly reading journal entries, close reading, in-class small group and class discussions, essay writing, and oral presentations. This course is discussion-based and student-centered. Respectful consideration of one another’s perspectives, open-mindedness, and active participation are expected.

ENGL 291 - LEC

Section 01
M 2:00 PM - 3:20 PM JOCH 202
W 2:00 PM - 3:20 PM JOCH 202


Other years: Offered in Fall 2023, Spring 2025