Center for Asian American Studies
Center for Asian American Studies

Asian American Studies Courses

AAS 310 • Asian American Film History

32155 • Nault, Curran
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM RLP 1.102
(also listed as AMS 315, RTF 301N)
show description

This course will consider Asian American film from a historical perspective, from the pioneers of Hollywood, to the YouTube stars of today. 

download syllabus

AAS 310 • Race, Immigration & Family

32150 • Gunasena, Natassja
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM CMA 5.190
(also listed as AMS 315, WGS 301)
show description

Flag: Cultural Diversity in the U.S.

Queer South Asian Feminisms: 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

32160 • Hsu, Madeline
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM BUR 216
(also listed as HIS 317L)
show description

Focusing on the migration and settlement of Asians in North America, this course explores major themes concerning the histories of immigration, race, gender, ethnicity, class, labor, and international relations.  We will trace the trajectory of American racialization of Asians from exclusion as inassimilable aliens to post-World War II celebrations as the model minority through changing conceptions of racial difference, evolving laws and government institutions, and shifting representations of ethnic identities and communities. Working with primary sources by and about Asians, we will explore how Asians have influenced understandings of national belonging and citizenship, ethnic identity and community, assimilation and acculturation, multiculturalism, labor and economic development, political participation, and transnationalism in influencing the emergence of the United States as a nation of immigrants.


Shelley Lee, A New History of Asian America (Routledge, 2014).
Cathy Schlund-Vials et al ed., Asian American: A Primary Source Reader (Yale University Press, 2016).
Additional required readings will be posted to Canvas.


15% Class attendance and participation
20% Midterm (Oct. 25)
30% Final Exam (Dec. 16, 9:00-12:00 noon)
10% Family Immigration Narrative (Sept. 8)
25% Timeline project (rolling deadlines): presentations on Fridays starting Week 3

AAS 314 • Asian American Lit & Culture

32165 • Mishra, Amrita
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM GAR 2.128
(also listed as E 314V)
show description

E 314V  l  2-Asian American Literature and Culture


Instructor:  Mishra, A

Unique #:  35155

Semester:  Fall 2018

Cross-lists:  AAS 314

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer instruction:  No


Prerequisites:  One of the following: E 303C (or 603A), RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 303C (or 603A).


Description:  In his 2017 latest Man Booker Prize short-listed novel, Exit West, Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid muses: “and when she went out it seemed to her that she too had migrated, that everyone migrates, even if we stay in the same houses our whole lives, because we can’t help it.  We are all migrants through time.”  In light of an international refugee crisis and the simultaneous increase in deportations from and immigration restrictions to the US, what does it mean for the contemporary Asian-American novel to imagine the migrant, and the “migrant through time”?  How might the 20th and 21st century “Asian-American novel”—in the various ways that we may define or destabilize the category— help make visible contemporary and older debates about the displacement of bodies, immigration, and the complicated relationship between a homeland and a diaspora?

As a class we will read a range of novels and secondary materials to explore issues of race, imperialism, diaspora, citizenship, and gender in the project of constructing “Asian-American” identity.  Our readings will invite questions such as: what is the very idea of “Asian-American literature” and what contemporary political utility might it have?  What can Asian-American novels teach us about historical Asian diasporas’ cultural and labor contributions to our present day understandings of “America,” and about the intimate relationship between US foreign policy and Asian refugees rehabilitated in the US?  How might such literature force us to consider the ways in which recent-anti-immigrant rhetoric in the US and elsewhere works to erase those older histories?  Finally, how does the contemporary Asian-American novel complicate and unsettle the conventional immigrant narrative of moving permanently from a disadvantaged homeland to a new land of promise?  What do we do, for example, with immigrant characters who voluntarily leave the US to return to other homes?


The primary aim of this course is to help students develop and improve the critical reading, writing, and thinking skills needed for success in upper-division courses in English and other disciplines.  They will also gain practice in using the Oxford English Dictionary and other online research tools and print resources that support studies in the humanities.  Students will learn basic information literacy skills and models for approaching literature with various historical, generic, and cultural contexts in mind.


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.


Possible Texts include Hala Alyan’s Salt Houses (2017), Thi Bui’s graphic novel The Best We Could Do (2017), Karen Tei Yamashita’s Letters to Memory (2017), Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West (2017).


Requirements & Grading:  In this course, there will be a series of 3 short essays, all of which may be revised and re-submitted (70% of final grade).  In addition, you will be evaluated on the basis of reading journal entries, shorter writing assignments, an in-class presentation, and engaged class participation (30% of final grade).

AAS 314 • Asian American Lit & Culture

32167 • Shingavi, Snehal
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM SZB 380
(also listed as E 314V)
show description

E 314V  l  2-Asian American Literature and Culture


Instructor:  Shingavi, S

Unique #:  35157

Semester:  Fall 2018

Cross-lists:  AAS 314

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer Instruction:  Yes


Prerequisites:  One of the following: E 303C (or 603A), RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 303C (or 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 • Asian American Media Culs

32180 • Mallapragada, Madhavi
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM BMC 3.206
show description

Please check back for updates.

AAS 320 • Documenting Difference

32188 • Nault, Curran
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM PAR 208
(also listed as RTF 359S)
show description

FLAGS: Writing

This course will explore the theory, history, practice and poetics of minority documentary. With a particular emphasis on Asian American examples, students will engage documentary as a vital practice of minority activism and self-preservation. Students will be introduced to influential documentaries across a wide range of styles and modes (expository, observational, performative, reflexive, poetic, interactive) and will explore critical topics in documentary production and reception: fictions of realism, authenticity and objectivity; histories of ethnography; questions of documentary ethics; aesthetic strategies of documentary art and activism; politics of self-representation; transnationalism; mockumentaries and the lampooning of “truth.” Class assignments will be a combination of written and creative work, and students will have the opportunity to create their own short documentary or documentary prospectus for their final project.

download syllabus

AAS 325 • South Asian Migration To US

32189 • Bhalodia-Dhanani, Aarti
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM CMA 3.114
(also listed as ANS 372, HIS 365G, WGS 340)
show description

This course examines the South Asian diaspora in United States. We will cover migration of people from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh 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 how American immigration laws have facilitated or inhibited South Asian migration to US in the twentieth century. 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. 

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 within 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 also examine South Asian American interactions with other Americans in the fields of social activism and community development.

You are encouraged to participate in South Asian American life in Austin. I will bring to your attention relevant films, lectures, art, music, and dance performances. Assignments for this course will help you in improving writing and communication skills. Our class meetings will be a blend of lectures and discussions.

AAS 330 • Anthropol Of The Himalayas

32190 • Hindman, Heather
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM RLP 0.122
(also listed as ANS 361, ANT 324L)
show description

This course looks at the history and culture of the Himalayan region, including Northeast India, sections of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Tibet, but especially Nepal. Some understanding of Asian history, politics and religion will be helpful (but not necessary) as our attempt will not be a comprehensive survey of the region. The Himalayas have been the site of a great deal of anthropological attention and as such we will be simultaneously be exploring several key theoretical, historical and methodological issues within the discipline of anthropology as we learn about places and people in the region. Particular attention will be paid to the area as a site for negotiating identity (caste and indigeneity), development politics, the environment, tourism, diasporas as well as the current political tensions in the region. At the conclusion of the class, students should have a stronger idea of the important role this area has played in the political, religious and social imagination of the world and an appreciation of concepts such as ritual theory, social movements, modernity and gender studies.

AAS 330 • Sociology Of Race And Work

32195 • Bhalodia-Dhanani, Aarti
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM GEA 127
(also listed as SOC 321R, WGS 322)
show description

Work is a central activity in the lives of most people. Along with providing an income, the type of work one does shapes the worker’s sense of personal identity. Social interaction in the work place provides workers with a set of skills, values, and mindset that influences how the work is done. Structure of a society determines the kind of work it does, who does what type of work, and how much people are paid for their efforts. In United States, 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. This course is a critical examination of work through a gendered and racial lens. 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.

Students will be able to sociologically identify concepts such as global markets, transnational labor, care work, service industry, gendered work, and racial segregation in the work place.  A majority of the readings, films, and class meetings will focus on contemporary work environment. Students will examine workers in the retail industry, care workers such as nannies, maids, and nurses, transnational workers in the STEM fields, and migrant labor. We will start the class with a survey of different forms of labor throughout United States’ history.  Students will be able to make historical connections between American citizenship, work, and value of one’s labor.