Center for Asian American Studies
Center for Asian American Studies

Asian American Studies Courses

AAS 310 • Mixed Race Identities

35890 • Gunasena, Natassja
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM CLA 0.106
(also listed as AMS 315)
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Flag: Cultural Diversity in the U.S.

What is “race,” and what does it mean to be “mixed”? What is the historical situation and tension of “mixing” in the United States, and why is it significant? What is the role of media in channeling fears, desires, and anxieties about “mixed” bodies? Why are “mixed race” bodies suddenly desirable and chic? This course is designed to provide students with language and critical tools to understand and discuss racial and ethnic representation in the United States. We will survey the history and evolving representations of race and ethnicity, with particular attention to the category of ‘mixedness’.  While a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches will be reviewed, critical and cultural studies approaches will be central. The course focuses on Asian American populations, with substantial attention to African American and Latino representations. In addition, there is significant emphasis on intersections of class, gender, sexuality, and citizenship with “mixedness” in racial formations. It carries the Cultural Diversity Flag.


Grade Breakdown

25%   Participation

20%   First research paper

15%   Quizzes

25%   Final research paper

15%   Blog posts and comments:


AAS 312 • Intro To Asian American Hist

35895 • Vong, Sam
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM CLA 0.128
(also listed as HIS 317L)
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This course introduces students to the histories of people of Asian descent in the United States, from the late sixteenth century to the present. Through historical works, literature, films, primary sources, and popular culture, students will explore the making of Asian America as a dynamic site of identity construction, political protest, community formation, social movement building, and a vibrant field of intellectual and historical inquiry. The course will focus on four broad themes: 1) the causes and effects of migration and settlement in the development of Asian American communities; 2) the role that Asian Americans have played in shaping U.S. social, political, and cultural institutions; 3) the diverse individuals and groups which make up this broad category of people we designate as Asian Americans, and their unique and sometimes shared experiences of oppression, marginalization, racism, and political empowerment; and 4) the ways in which the experiences of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class have intersected with other marginalized groups in U.S. society. Throughout the course, we will explore these themes within global and transnational contexts to identify shared connections across borders—physical, imagined, and otherwise.

Required course materials:

    Shelley Sang-Hee Lee, A New History of Asian America (Routledge, 2013);

    Additional reading assignments will be available for download on Canvas.

Grading breakdown:

30%   Exam 1

30%   Exam 2

30%   Exam 3

10%   Attendance and participation

AAS 314 • Asian American Lit & Culture

35900 • Shingavi, Snehal
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM MEZ 1.212
(also listed as E 314V)
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E 314V  l  2-Asian American Literature and Culture


Instructor:  Shingavi, S

Unique #:  34820

Semester:  Spring 2017

Cross-lists:  AAS 314

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer Instruction:  Yes


Prerequisites:  One of the following: E 603A, RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 603A.


Description:  As a worldwide refugee crisis continues, hateful rhetoric in the US is directed toward recent and potential immigrants, despite immigration’s central role in the nation’s identity.  Considering contemporary and historical debates about immigration through the lens of 20th and 21st century Asian American novels and short stories, this course will focus on conceptions of nationhood, ethnicity, race, gender, and sexuality, and ask the following questions:  What has it—and does it—mean to be “Asian American”? How does Asian American literature navigate oppression, politics, and culture?


The primary aim of this course is to help students develop and improve the critical reading and thinking skills needed for success in upper-division courses in English and/or Asian American Studies.  They will also learn historical contexts, critical debates, and the relationship between “home” countries and the diasporas.


This course contains a writing flag.  The writing assignments in this course are arranged procedurally with a focus on invention, development through instructor and peer feedback, and revision; they will comprise a major part of the final grade.


This course contains a Cultural Diversity flag.


Tentative Texts:  Bulosan, America is in the Heart; Chang-Rae Lee, Native Speaker; Eddie Huang, Fresh off the Boat; Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies; Karen Tei Yamashita, I-Hotel; lê thi diem thuy, The Gangster We Are All Looking For; Mohsin Hamid, Reluctant Fundamentalist; Suji Kwock Kim, Notes from the Divided Country, among other short stories and secondary sources.


Requirements & Grading:  There will be two mid-term papers (25% each) and a final paper (35%).  There may also be short quizzes, reaction papers, blog posts, and/or in-class presentations (15% of the final grade).

AAS 320 • Race, Internet, & Soc Media

35910 • Nault, Curran
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WEL 3.402
(also listed as AMS 321, RTF 359)
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Flags: Cultural Diversity in the U.S. and Writing

From its earliest incarnations, the Internet has been celebrated as a place where corporeal concerns such as race “don’t matter.” A sizable body of research and recent popular online trends have since proven otherwise. This course gives students the vocabulary to critically articulate the relationships between Internet technologies and embodied cultural practices of use that affiliate around “race.” Topics range from early text-‐based Internet identity tourism to the phenomenon of Asian American YouTube stars to the cultural discourses of “Black Twitter.” The course adopts an intersectional politics and includes attention to gender, sexuality and (dis)ability. Finally, this course, like new media more generally, is participatory by design and will encourage students to explore course topics through both critical thought and practical experience.

Grade Breakdown:

30%     Course blog
20%     Midterm Essay/Post
20%     YouTube Assignment
20%     Group Creative Project
10%     Attendance/Participation


AAS 325 • Global Economies: Asia & US

35915 • Mays, Susan
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM CMA 3.114
(also listed as ANS 361)
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Flag: Global Cultures

 This course introduces key trends in the economies of the US and Asia, with emphasis on the links between these two major trading blocs.  The class addresses the rise of China and India as well as the development of Japan, the “Tiger” economies, and Southeast Asia.  The course examines the connections between Asia and the US in trade and outsourcing, technology and knowledge transfer, and historical and contemporary alliances.  Importantly, the class addresses professional and labor migration between Asia and the US, including the growth of the Asian American population and a globalized professional class.  The approach is historical and comparative (quantitative analysis is not required), and the reading includes scholarly works and case studies, as well as selections from business and journalism.


Grade Distribution: 

15%    Class Participation

45%    3 Quizzes (non-cumulative)

20%    Paper (~6 pages)

20%    Group Project



AAS 325 • Refugees In 20th-Century US

35920 • Vong, Sam
Meets M 3:00PM-6:00PM JES A207A
(also listed as HIS 350R)
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This course explores the history of refugees in the twentieth century, with special attention to the U.S. and its engagement in the international arena of refugee politics. The course asks what historical and contemporary roles have refugees played during times of peace and conflict in the twentieth century? Students will examine how states, non-governmental organizations, private charities, and local communities have come together to address the questions of asylum, displacement, statelessness, and human rights. Students will study the causes of particular refugee movements and the reasons why the United States responded to or failed to respond to certain refugee cases. The course will introduce students to how the "problem" of refugees has been framed by, among others, historians and social scientists, policymakers, NGOs, local communities, social workers, and refugees themselves. In doing so, this course will explore how particular cases of refugees have shaped U.S. domestic policies and also the development of the United States and its role in international affairs.

Required Books:

1. Carl J. Bon Tempo, Americans at the Gate: The United States and Refugees during the Cold War (2008);

2. Additional reading assignments will be available for downloand on Canvas.

Assignments and Grading Breakdown:

20%  Midterm Exam

15%  First draft of research paper

35%  Final draft of revised research paper

20%  Weekly journal entries

10%  Attendance and participation

AAS 325 • South Asian Migration To US

35935 • Bhalodia-Dhanani, Aarti
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM CMA 3.114
(also listed as ANS 372, HIS 365G, WGS 340)
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Flag: Cultural Diversity in the U.S.

This course examines the South Asian diaspora in United States. We will cover migration of people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal to United States and other parts of the world. While studying the history and culture of South Asian America, we will discuss globalization, transnationalism, migration, assimilation, formation of a diaspora, discrimination, and gender and sexuality, all major themes in Asian American Studies. The course is arranged chronologically and thematically. We will start in the nineteenth century following the journey of the first South Asian migrants to US. We will then move on to studying the Bengali and Punjabi immigrants to U.S. and the formation of Bengali-African and Punjabi-Mexican communities. We will study the effects of the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act on South Asian migration to US. Topics covered include economic and social reasons for migration, adaptation to American life, cultural and religious assimilation, changing family structures, and discrimination and exclusion. We will end the semester by discussing South Asian American life in the twenty-first century.


Course Objectives


Through the semester we will study more than a century of South Asian American history. A primary goal of this course is to highlight the diversity in South Asian America. We will encounter a diaspora whose members belong to different religious, linguistic, economic and social groups. Many came to the United States forcibly to seek economic opportunities lacking at home. Others came enthusiastically with dreams of making it “big” in the land of abundant opportunities. We will ask ourselves how monolithic is the South Asian community? We will also examine South Asian American interactions with other Asian American groups in the fields of social activism and community development.


Assignments and Grading


15%   Attendance and participation

25%   Exam 1

25%   Exam 2

5%     Research paper topic and bibliography

5%     Research paper presentation


25%   Research paper


Textbook: Karen Isaken Leonard, The South Asian Americans (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997). 


Selections from the following:

 Vivek Bald, Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013).        


 Judith M. Brown, Global South Asians: Introducing the Modern Diaspora (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).       


Shamita Das Gupta edited, A Patchwork Shawl: Chronicles of South Asian Women in America (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1998).        


Khyati Y. Joshi and Jigna Desai, Asian Americans in Dixie: Race and Migration in the South (University of Illinois Press, 2013)     


Susan Kosby and R. Radhakrishnan edited, Transnational South Asians: The Making of a Neo-Diaspora (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).


Karen  Isaken  Leonard,  Making Ethnic Choices: California’s Punjabi Mexican Americans (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992).

AAS 325 • The Chinese In Diaspora

35924 • Hsu, Madeline
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM GAR 0.128
(also listed as ANS 361, HIS 350L)
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In a self-proclaimed “nation of immigrants” such as the United States, our narratives of migration, race, and ethnicity emphasize themes of acculturation and assimilation symbolized by the metaphor of the “melting pot.”  In this class, we will explore experiences of migration, adaptation, and settlement from the perspective of an emigrant society--China--which has one of the longest and most diverse histories of sending merchants, workers, artisans, diplomats, missionaries, and so forth, overseas.  Over the last millennia, Chinese have migrated around the world and made homes under a great range of adversity and opportunity, producing many fascinating stories of encounters with difference and the building of common ground. Drawing upon this rich set of narratives, we will consider some of the following topics:  As ethnic Chinese have moved and settled in so many places among such diverse societies, what is Chinese about the Chinese diaspora? What kinds of skills and attributes have helped Chinese to become arguably one of the most successful migrant groups? What do Chinese share in common with other migrant groups? How do Chinese adapt their identities and cultures under different circumstances?  What can Chinese experiences of migration contribute to contemporary debates and perceptions of migrants and different kinds of migration?

Chirot, Daniel and Anthony Reid, ed. Essential Outsiders: Chinese and Jews in the Modern Transformation of Southeast Asia and Central Europe. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 1997.

Kuhn, Philip A. Chinese Among Others: Emigration in Modern Times. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.

Louie, Vivian. Compelled to Excel: Immigration, Education, and Opportunity among Chinese Americans. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004

Lui, Mary. The Chinatown Trunk Mystery: Murder, Miscegenation, and Other Dangerous Encounters in Turn-of-the-Century New York City. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Roberts, J.A.G., China to Chinatown: Chinese Food in the West. London: Reaktion, 2002.

Wang Gungwu. The Chinese Overseas: From Earthbound China to the Quest for Autonomy. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000. 

25 % Class participation and attendance

24 % Two 2-3 page book reviews

36 % 9-10 page research paper

10 % In-class presentation of research

5% peer review

AAS 325 • The Two Koreas And The US

35930 • Oppenheim, Robert
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM MEZ 2.118
(also listed as ANS 361, ANT 324L, GOV 360N, HIS 364G)
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This course will examine the production, distribution, and consumption of East Asian popular culture. Specific topics include Hong Kong cinema, Japanese animation, Japanese trendy dramas, Korean television dramas, and K-pop music. Noting the “globalization” phenomenon, this course will address what has caused the increasing visibility of East Asian cultural products outside of the region. The growing recognition of East Asian pop culture around the globe, however, has also accompanied by more vibrant circulations of the cultural products and interactions among recipients within the region. Therefore, this course will take the globalization of popular culture as an analytical lens through which to reflect modernity, tensions of (trans)nationalism, urbanization, gender politics, and identity formations in East Asia.

AAS 330 • Blacks/Asians: Race/Soc Movmnt

35940 • Nie, Phonshia
Meets TTH 5:00PM-6:30PM CLA 1.102
(also listed as AFR 374D, ANT 324L)
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Flag: Cultural Diversity in the U.S.

Why or why not do Asian Americans support affirmative action? Black Lives Matter? What role did race play in community support for/against Peter Liang’s reduced conviction after killing African American Akai Gurley? What role did race play when African Americans destroyed Korean-owned property and businesses during the LA Riots? How do we explain and overcome racial tensions between African American and Asian American communities?


In this course, we explore answers to these questions by tracing the historical roots of Asian and Black relations in the U.S. We begin by covering topics that are foundational to understanding the racialization of Asians and Blacks in the U.S. Topics include theories of race/racialization, early Afro Asian international connections, and the impact of World War II on interracial relations. We will then navigate key points of conflict and collaboration between Asians and Blacks in history. Topics include the Third World movement/internationalism, Afro Asian feminisms, the LA Riots, the model minority myth, affirmative action, hip hop and rap, and politics. This broad survey of Asian Black relations provides students a solid understanding of the many differences that divide communities of color and encourages students to consider effective strategies for building multiracial alliances.


Grading Breakdown

10 x 2.5% = 25%   In-Class Written Responses/Quizzes

2 x 20% = 40%      Response Papers

35%                      Final Research Paper 

AAS 330 • Reproductive Justice & Race

35945 • Rudrappa, Sharmila
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM ETC 2.114
(also listed as SOC 321K, WGS 340)
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Since the Cairo Conference on Population and Development in 1994 state policies concerning women’s health around the world have taken a turn away from population control to reproductive health. Within this context, activists and scholars alike have turned their attention to reproductive justice that envisions the complete physical and mental well-being of women and girls, which can potentially be achieved when they have the economic, social, and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction. In this class we ask: how do various social movements define reproductive justice? How is access to reproductive rights stratified by race and class? Through drawing students’ attention to specific case studies, this course illuminates on the specific challenges faced by women of color in the U.S., as well as women in developing countries across the world. Topics we will cover are forcible sterilization, access (or lack of access) to birth control, population control policies, prenatal and postnatal care, maternal and infant health outcomes in various parts of the world, sex selective abortions, new reproductive technologies, and stratified reproduction. As part of the final part of the course the students will think through the reproductive health issues facing women of color on campus, through conducting a survey. 

AAS 335 • Asian Americans/Education

35950 • Rodriguez, Noreen
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM MEZ 1.212
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Flag: Cultural Diversity in the U.S.

This course examines Asian Americans across a variety of areas related to education.  First, the course begins with a review of discriminatory schooling practices and linguistic challenges faced by Asian and Asian American students historically and contemporarily.  Students will learn about the segregation of Asian Americans in schools and will consider how Asian American students are currently perceived in schools, both positively and negatively, in an era of increasingly inflammatory anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim political rhetoric.  Second, the struggles faced by Asian American students in K-12 as well as in higher education will be discussed, with particular attention to the problems presented by aggregated data, the consequences of the model minority myth both on Asian American students and their teachers, and affirmative action.  Lastly, the course will examine the representation of Asian Americans in school curriculum, attending to the consequences of the near exclusion of Asian Americans from the curriculum and the ways in which Asian Americans are represented children's literature. 


Grading Breakdown: 

50 %    2 critical reflection papers 

10%     class presentation 

30%     2 book reviews 

10%     participation & attendance 


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AAS 335 • Brdg Comm Thru Serv Learn

35955 • Shah, Sona
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM CLA 0.120
(also listed as S W 360K)
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Flags: Cultural Diversity in the U.S. and Ethics and Leadership

Course Description

This course is an academic service learning course where students will learn about Asian/Asian American socioeconomic issues and how community organizations respond. The course will provide students an opportunity to study, assess, research, and experience community service learning through a community based organization and structured course meetings. Students will be required to perform service hours outside of the classroom with a local community organization.

A primary focus of the course will be to examine the relationship between service learner, client population and the organization through a social justice lens. We will examine the state of the nonprofit sector, communities, individuals, intersectionality, and how self-empowerment brings about social change. We will also explore the importance of culture in community life and how it affects the collaboration of service providing entities.


Attendance & Class Participation - 15%

Journals - 20%

Service Learning at Organization - 30%

Mid-semester Presentation – 10%

End of Semester Research Paper and Presentation - 25%