Asian American Literature: World, Nation, City

This seminar provides a framework for teaching and reading Asian American literature at three levels of scale: world, nation, and city. At the world scale, we will discuss the political origins of the phrase "Asian American" in the late 1960s and its associations with radical forms of political activism such as the Third World Liberation Front. We will also look back to the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries to see how a larger, world historical perspective of Asian American literature from the Manila galleon trade to the Spanish American War can illustrate the limitations of historical and literary narratives that focus too heavily on the North Atlantic. At the national scale, we will examine how Asian American writers confronted the anti-Asiatic creation of national borders through immigration exclusions and origin quotas from the 1880s to 1920s. We will trace how the legacies of these exclusions informed later works written during and after ghettoization, internment, and refugee resettlement. Finally, at the city scale, we will focus on resources for finding and teaching Asian American literary texts written in, or about, Chicago.