Center for Asian American Studies
Center for Asian American Studies

Asian American Studies Courses

AAS 301 • Intro To Asian Amer Studies

35800 • Nault, Curran
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BUR 136
(also listed as AMS 315)
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Flag: Cultural Diversity in the U.S.

This interdisciplinary course introduces students to critical questions regarding the historical and contemporary experiences of Asian Americans. Students will intellectually engage key issues, theories and debates in Asian American Studies, and learn to unpack the very idea of “Asian American” as containing an ever-shifting multiplicity of peoples, histories and places. Taking an intersectional approach to identity that explores race and ethnicity in conjunction with gender, sexuality, generation and nation, this course will engage diverse viewpoints, including those of women, LGBT+ individuals and people of color more generally. Key topics to be explored include: (im)migration, citizenship, imperialism, panethnicity, racial formation, intersectionality, multiraciality, transnationalism, hybridity and mediated representation.

AAS 310 • Race, Immigration & Family

35805 • Gunasena, Natassja
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM GEA 127
(also listed as AMS 315, WGS 301)
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Flag: Culutural Diversity in the U.S.

Queer South Asian Feminisims This class will interrogate the ways South Asian feminists conceptualize identity, belonging and sexuality within the context of nationalism, anti-blackness, colonialism and diaspora. Through close-reading literary and theoretical texts, we will examine how nationalism constructs gender and femininity and the transformative potential of queer feminine desires. This class is designed as an introduction to key issues in South Asian feminist thought as well as how these feminisms interface with the larger project of women of color feminisms. Beginning with feminist perspectives on identity and the nation state, we will consider what “queer” and “feminist” mean in the context of casteism, ethnic cleansing and forced migration. For the scope of this class we will focus extensively on Sri Lanka and India and their diasporas. Some of the authors we look at include Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Shailja Patel, Ru Freeman and Gayatri Gopinath.

AAS 312 • Intro To Asian American Hist

35810 • Vong, Sam
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM UTC 1.144
(also listed as HIS 317L)
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Course description:

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:

  1. Shelley Sang-Hee Lee, A New History of Asian America (Routledge, 2013);
  2. 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

download syllabus

AAS 320 • Asian American Media Culs

35822 • Mallapragada, Madhavi
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM CMA 3.120
(also listed as RTF 359)
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Flags: Cultural Diversity in the U.S. and Writing

This course will examine diverse representations of Asian Americans in the US media by focusing on popular film, television, videogames and the World Wide Web. It will critically interrogate stereotypical images of Asian American identities, culture, and politics as well as representations that challenge and contest such stereotypes. In doing so, the course will locate the politics of representing Asian Americans in the US media within a broader historical, political and cultural context that includes issues of immigration, nationalism and citizenship, race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality and transnationalism.

AAS 320 • Documenting Difference

35825 • Nault, Curran
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM CLA 1.102
(also listed as RTF 359S)
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Flags: Cultural Diversity in the U.S. and Writing

This course will explore the theory, history, practice and poetics of minority documentary, as well as the related fields of oral history and archiving. With a particular emphasis on Asian American examples, students will engage documentary (as well as oral history and archiving) as a vital practice of minority self-representation and self-preservation. Students will be introduced to a variety of documentary modes (poetic, expository, observational, participatory, reflexive and performative/personal), as well as key doc topics: jargons of authenticity; inscriptions of science, truth and knowledge; ethnography and colonialism; realism and fictions of objectivity; ethics of responsibility; grassroots political filmmaking and strategies of resistance; depictions of the self. Class projects will be a combination of written and creative work, and students will have the opportunity to create their own short documentaries, oral histories, or archival projects.

AAS 320 • Globalization & Social Media

35831 • Chen, Wenhong
Meets MW 3:00PM-4:30PM CMA 3.120
(also listed as RTF 365, SOC 352S)
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Flags: Global Cultures and Writing

What are social media doing to us? And we to them? Drawing on literatures from media studies, sociology, communication, and management, this course invites students to engage in critical analysis of the causes, patterns, and consequences of using social media in a global context.  Building on cases from diverse cultures and nations, the course provides a rich comparative perspective. The course has three components.

  • We start with major debates on the role of communication and media technologies in network society, globalization, and transnationalism.
  • In the second part, we focus on how macro social forces and institutions such as state and market shape the development of social media and other new communication technologies. We explore how social inequalities and cultural differences affect digital divides.
  • In the third part, we investigate how social media and other new technologies have facilitated changes in politics, organizations, networks, as well as media and culture.

AAS 325 • Refugees In 20th-Century US

35833 • Vong, Sam
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM BEN 1.108
(also listed as HIS 350R)
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Course Description:

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


download syllabus

AAS 330 • Sociology Of Race And Work

35845 • Bhalodia-Dhanani, Aarti
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM CMA 3.114
(also listed as SOC 321R, WGS 322)
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Flag: Cultural Diversity in the U.S.

This course is a critical examination of work through a gendered and racial lens. Individuals’ racial and gender characteristics deeply shape how labor markets emerge and how skills are evaluated. Jobs are often gender segregated and men and women are remunerated differently. The purpose of this course is to examine concepts such as labor markets, globalization, racial segregation, and gendering of the work place. This course is cross-listed with Asian American Studies and Women’s Studies.

AAS 330 • Transnational Korea

35850 • Oppenheim, Robert
Meets TTH 5:00PM-6:30PM CLA 0.118
(also listed as ANS 379, ANT 324L)
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Flags: Global Cultures and Writing

The focus of this course is on various recent and contemporary manifestations of “the Koreas in the world, and the world in the Koreas.” We begin with various historical formations of Korean out- and return migration, notably encompassing both Koreas. From there, we go on to look at various movements of people, products, ideas, and institutions in the last twenty years. These include labor and marriage migration from and to the Koreas, educational sojourning (and so-called “kirogi” families split by the practice), transnational adoption, tourism, international sport, and media flows (e.g., the “Korean Wave”).

AAS 330 • Urban Unrest

35855 • Tang, Eric
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM PAR 203
(also listed as AFR 372F, AMS 321, ANT 324L, URB 354)
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How and when do cities burn? The modern US city has seen its share of urban unrest, typified by street protests (both organized and spontaneous), the destruction of private property, looting, and fires. Interpretations of urban unrest are varied: some describe it as aimless rioting, others as political insurrection. Most agree that the matter has something to do with the deepening of racism, poverty and violence. This course takes a closer look at the roots of urban unrest, exploring a range of origins: joblessness, state violence, white flight, the backlash against civil rights gains, new immigration and interracial strife. Urban unrest is often cast as an intractable struggle between black and white, yet this course examines the ways in which multiple racial groups have entered the fray. Beyond race and class, the course will also explore unrest as a mode of pushing the normative boundaries of gender and sexuality in public space. Course material will draw from film, literature, history, geography and anthropology.


Required Texts: 

  • The majority of readings will be available as pdf on Blackboard. Students must acquire the following texts:
  • Robert F. Williams, Negroes With Guns
  • Robin D.G. Kelley, Yo Mama’s Dysfunctional: Fighting the Culture Wars in Urban America
  • Dan Georgakis and Marvin Surkin, Detroit: I Do Mind Dying: A Study in Urban Revolution
  • Robert Gooding Williams eds. Reading Rodney King/Reading Urban Uprising