Spring 2013 Courses

AAS R2A: Reading and Composition (Anna Leong)

Asian American Studies R2A is a course in critical thinking and writing in which students will gain a basic introduction to contemporary issues in the work of Asian American writers.  For this semester we will focus loosely on the theme of “war.” Under what circumstances, if any, can war be justified?  How might Asian Americans stand in a unique position when evaluating America’s military engagements?  More than anything, this course is devoted to your writing, so there will be a strong emphasis on learning to identify essay topics that interest you.  You will write extensively in order to give power to your voice through the written word. You will spend a great deal of time reading and revising student work, as well as considerable attention to the mechanics of argumentative prose.  To this end, you will learn how to analyze, with care and precision, such varied forms of writing as short stories, poetry, and novels.

AAS R2B: Reading and Composition (Anna Leong)

Asian American Studies R2B is a course in critical thinking and writing in which students will gain a basic introduction to contemporary issues in the work of Ethnic American writers.  For this semester we will focus loosely on the theme of “love.”  We will address many questions that have no predetermined answers.  For example, when we look at Asian American relationships in comparison to relationships of other ethnic groups, do we find specific patterns of behavior or conflicts?  What might these conflicts reflect in terms of Asian American/Ethnic American identity?  Are they influenced by immigration, national boundaries and/or culture?  More than anything, this course is devoted to your writing, so there will be a strong emphasis on learning to identify essay topics that interest you.  You will write extensively in order to give power to your voice through the written word. You will spend a great deal of time reading and revising student work, as well as considerable attention to the mechanics of argumentative prose.  To this end, you will learn how to analyze, with care and precision, such varied forms of writing as short stories, poetry, and novels.

AAS 20A: Introduction to the History of Asians in the U.S. (TBA)

Depending on the historical period in question, Asian Americans have been envisioned in the popular imagination as either an insidious social and economic threat to the white race or as a “model minority” successfully assimilating into mainstream American society. This course examines how and in what ways Asian Americans have been racially constructed, through their interactions with and within social structures and prevailing ideologies of the time. The overall goal of the course is to understand how Asian American experiences have been shaped by and have shaped the broader contours of American history. It is also hoped that students’ proficiency in social science research methods, academic writing, and analysis will be enhanced.

AAS 20B: Issues in Contemporary Asian American Communities (Harvey Dong)

This course will survey contemporary issues affecting Asian American communities. We will consider various theories that help explain the current status of Asian Americans and the relationships between Asian American communities, the nation, and the world. We will analyze context and conditions as well as agency – what individuals and groups have done to improve their circumstances and the circumstances of others, thereby developing and defining community. Students will be encouraged to become active participants who contribute to defining and improving conditions in the community.

AAS 20C: Asian American Popular Culture (Roger Chung)

This course will feature Asian American popular cultural practices and phenomena. While ethnic or traditional culture will be significant, we will approach “Asian American Culture” as an emergent cultural form that responds to racialization in America. Although race will be a prominent course analytical lens, the fashioning and refashioning of emergent cultures in America will be heavily dependent on the ways gender, ethnicity, sexuality and class intersect with race to produce uniquely Asian American shared experiences. From racialization, we will move towards globalization, and focus on the ways transnational consumption patterns change the contours of cultural practice, and introduce new tensions between Asian American and mainstream popular culture. Some topics this semester will include: Import Car Racing, Body Modifications, Student Culture Shows, Gang Membership, Comedy, YouTube, Hip-Hop, Beauty Contests, Dating and Relationships, K-Pop and Anime. Lastly, we will also value the rich cultural productions and traditions right here at UC Berkeley, and insert student culture nights, Theatre Rice, and hardboiled news magazine into the curriculum.

AAS 131: Asian Diasporas and Asian America (Lok Siu)

This course analyzes the demographic transformation of Asian American communities in the last 40 years as a result of several key causes, not the least of which are immigration and globalization and the social, cultural, economic, and political consequences of such transformation. We will examine the political and intellectual discourses on changing Asian America and how Asian American studies itself, a by-product of the domestic civil rights movement, has been undergoing significant changes from its original national to a more transnational and global orientation.

AAS 132AC: Islamophobia and Constructing Otherness (Hatem Bazian)

This course examines and attempts to understand Islamophobia and its domestic and global implications as the most recent manifestation of “othering” not unique from earlier manifestations of racism directed at other racial, ethnic, or religious communities in the U.S. We will analyze the ideological and epistemological frameworks employed in discourses of otherness and the complex social, political, economic, gender-based, and religious forces entangled in the historical and modern reproduction of Islamophobia. More broadly, we will focus on the process of “othering” Islam and Muslims comparatively, as a process of reproduction of historically globalized racial and gender matrixes. Finally, we will consider the far-reaching consequences of this unfolding process on communities of color in the U.S. and abroad.

AAS 138: Asian Popular Culture: Gender, Sexualities, and Racialization in South Asian (Indian) Cinematic Discourses (Huma Dar)

We will explore the cinematic representations of the complex intersections and co-formations of race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, religion and nationality, class and caste, as they mesh to construct our knowledge of India: the nation with the largest film industry in the world. As an entry point into such an exploration, we will pay special attention to Urdu-Hindi films of India, commonly called Bollywood films and usually considered the “national cinema” of India, via thematically deconstructing the ambiguous and ambivalent racialized representations of the Muslim minorit(ies). Through careful readings of films, a novel, and visual and theoretical texts, we will first unpack the trope of the Muslim “tawa’if” or the courtesan/whore – a counterfoil both to the chaste and virginal normativity of the “good” Hindu woman, and to the “oppressed” Muslim woman, sheathed in burqas, and in need of “liberation” from the “hypersexualized and dangerous” Muslim man. We will interrogate the media images of the Muslim or Islamized prostitute as a locus of anxiety for the dominant discourses, as well as a convenient tool to suppress those anxieties, and contextualize the discussions with readings from history, critical feminist race & ethnic studies, and the synopses of recent events in India and Kashmir, especially considering the links to transnational Islamophobic rhetoric pre- and post 9/11. During the course of our exploration and interrogation of Bollywood films and their national and transnational reception(s), we will develop a critical framework that will also help us discuss ways in which the media representations of disempowered and marginalized ethno-racialized groups could be made more just.

AAS 143: Asian Americans and Health (Winston Tseng)

The course examines the state of Asian American health, the historical, structural, and cultural contexts of diverse Asian American communities, and role of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status in the production of unequal outcomes between Asian Americans and other racial/ethnic groups as well as across different Asian American subgroups.  A major thrust of this course is that in order to understand the health of Asian Americans, it is imperative to understand the socio-cultural and political economic context of their everyday lives.

AAS 144: Religions of Asian America (Christopher Chua)

The approach of this course is interdisciplinary, and we will employ tools from the disciplines of sociology, history, and religious studies, among others, in our attempt to construct an understanding of the religions of Asian America. In addition, the approach is rooted in an ethnic-studies perspective, which foregrounds the agency of racial/ethnic communities. As we explore the varieties of Asian American religious communities, we will challenge the commonly held view of an American religious landscape dominated by white mainline Protestantism and will revisit three recurring themes related to Asian American religion in each of our units of study:  variety, imbrication in a range of social formations and social dynamics, and dynamism.

AAS 146: Asian Americans and Education (Jere Takahashi)

This is a student-centered, collaborative, and practice-oriented course that will examine key educational issues confronting Asian Americans and Pacific islanders. Through dialogue and action-oriented research/learning, we will map the historical and contemporary position and participation of APIs within various segments of the U.S. educational system, with an emphasis on higher education. Topics will include educational achievement, bilingual education, educational access and full participation, the formation of Asian American studies, API student life, and strategies for educational change.  Community engagement and fieldwork will be an integral part of the curriculum and will provide the “grounding” for class discussion and activities. Students will also work in small groups to help plan and facilitate class sessions.

AAS 150: Gender and Generation in the Asian American Family (Keiko Yamanaka)

Asian women in America, whether immigrants or citizens, are subject to misunderstanding, misrepresentation, and often mistreatment because of their gender and their ethnicity. In the past, they were excluded from immigration, declared to be ineligible for citizenship and discriminated against in the labor market. In recent years, they have come to be considered model minorities—quiet, intelligent, and exotic. Such representations suggest that Asians are thought of as peripheral to mainstream society, women are considered “the second sex,” and Asian women are seen as powerless under masculine control. Where have these racial, class and gender ideologies come from in America? How do they affect women of color, particularly women of Asian descent? What have been, and will be, Asian women’s responses to these constraining attitudes and practices? By focusing on three major themes—theory, case studies, and action, this course will pursue these questions in search of Asian women’s roots, identity, and power in the United States.

AAS 171: Asians in Film and Video (Elaine H. Kim)

Roughly chronological introduction to cinematic works by and about Asian Americans and to social and cultural issues viewers might infer from them. The first one-third or so of the course will provide opportunities to analyze Hollywood narratives about Asians and Asian Americans from the silent film era to the present, with some attention to the roles Asian Americans have played in them. The rest of the course will attempt to trace the parameters and topographies of Asian American cinema from the 1970s to the present. What stories do Asian American filmmakers tell? Why and how do they tell them? How might we become more thoughtful and perceptive visual media viewers? What would we like to see on the silver screen, and what part might we play in bringing forth these images and stories?

AAS 172: Asian American Literature: Border Crossings in Literature and Love (Fae Myenne Ng)

What is the texture and the dynamic of intimacy? How does personal desire reflect on public identity? We’ll examine how writers deal with the personal and the political. How do they translate these themes into fictional narratives? Does universality exist in literature? Which truth is the writer responsible to: self or society? We’ll consider the reader and the critic. Who has the right to write? Are there perspectives that are off limits? Are there racial lines in literature? What is colonization of literature? Are there borders on creativity? We’ll discuss the writer’s task, technique and talent in crossing borders on the page.  What empowers a writer, experience or imagination?

AAS 173: Asian American Creative Writing (Fae Myenne Ng)

In this seminar, we’ll write and share our creative work. We will examine how Asian American writers deal with the personal and the political; how we translate our bicultural, bilingual loyalties into full fictional narratives. We will consider the reader and the critic. We will discuss the writers’ technique and talent in crossing ethnic borders on the page. What empowers a writer: experience or imagination?

AAS 175: Contemporary Narratives on the Philippines and the United States (Joi Barrios)

The course focuses on Philippine diaspora literature written in English, Spanish, and  Filipino (translated in English).  This includes the following:  19th century propaganda literature written in Spain by Jose Rizal and essayist Marcelo H. Del Pilar; works of early Filipino migrants such as Carlos Bulosan, Bienvenido Santos, and N.V.M. Gonzales; Tagalog poetry of recent migrants Elynia Mabanglo and Mae Roca; contemporary novels by Ninotchka Rosca, Jessica Hagedorn, Zach Linmark, and Tess Uriza-Holthe;  the writings of the domestic workers and overseas contract workers in Hong Kong,  Singapore, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia; migrant plays staged in Japan, Australia and the United States; and new works and anthologies of second and third-generation Filipino-Americans. The course uses an interdisciplinary approach. Works shall be studied alongside cultural practices and the appropriation of space,  and in the context of  colonization, globalization and social and political movements.

AAS 183: Korean American Literary and Cultural Studies (Elaine H. Kim)

Introductory study of Korean American cultural expressions, including memoir, oral history, novels, short fiction, poetry, visual art, video and film, with attention to thematics, historical and social contexts, critical reception, and artistry. We will explore questions of race and representation, gender, social class, family, Asian American and Korean nationalism, transracial and transnational identities, and other issues that are thematized and otherwise addressed in Korean American cultural texts.

AAS 190: Chinese Americans in Science and Technology (Ling-Chi Wang)

If you are a science or engineering student or a student in Asian American Studies interested in knowing more about Chinese American contributions in science and technology in the U.S., this is the course that will help you understand and become involved in planning a national conference on the same subject. Chinese Americans are aware of their significant presence in science and engineering, but most do not know the degree of their presence in each discipline and above all, what contributions they have made toward American global preeminence in science and technology today.  This course welcomes students interested in the subject and invites their participation an ambitious project that will lead to comprehensive documentation and critical assessment of Chinese American contributions to science and technology in the U.S.  The course will also provide a historical background about how Chinese Americans came to establish their strong presence in all scientific disciplines, what have been their experiences in science and engineering, what contributions they have made, and most importantly, how their contributions can be documented and assessed.

AAS DeCal: hardboiled APA Journalism

If you are a science or engineering student or a student in Asian American Studies interested in knowing more about Chinese American contributions in science and technology in the U.S., this is the course that will help you understand and become involved in planning a national conference on the same subject. Chinese Americans are aware of their significant presence in science and engineering, but most do not know the degree of their presence in each discipline and above all, what contributions they have made toward American global preeminence in science and technology today.  This course welcomes students interested in the subject and invites their participation an ambitious project that will lead to comprehensive documentation and critical assessment of Chinese American contributions to science and technology in the U.S.  The course will also provide a historical background about how Chinese Americans came to establish their strong presence in all scientific disciplines, what have been their experiences in science and engineering, what contributions they have made, and most importantly, how their contributions can be documented and assessed.