Program in Comparative Literature

Chienyn Chi



AAS 314 • Asian American Lit & Culture

32065 • Spring 2020
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM GDC 2.410
CDWr (also listed as E 314V)

This is a course that asks you to rethink Asian American literature and culture from the perspective of aesthetics, history, and empire. You will find that the different experimentations in artistic expressions encountered here will testify to the richness and contradictions of what it means to be Asian American. We will be asking difficult questions: What is America, racial oppression, empire, nationhood, and the English language? What is a homeland, a place, a sense of belonging? What is family, history, and generational memory and trauma? What is a “good” immigrant and what is a “bad” immigrant? And are these understandings dictated by law, the media, historical events, or global politics? As you read the many texts on the syllabus, these authors will not always have easy answers to these hard questions, nor will they necessarily agree, yet they are all invested in the constant dismantling of our assumptions and our definitions.  Starting with seminal theoretical concepts on immigration and global empire to foreground our course, we will then explore different genres and forms of writing, such as, short stories, the graphic novel, the global novel, poetry, non-fiction, young adult and children literature. We will participate in the act of close reading and learn how to pay attention to the details of language and try to struggle with the many different possible interpretations. We will learn about Japanese internment, the Chinese Exclusion Act, activist solidarities between African and Asian Americans, the history of coolies, partition of India, the Cold War, American colonialism, and Asian migration and politics.  We will also critically think through cultural authenticity, cultural representation, gender, queerness, and class. I hope by the end of this course, you will realize through your own writing, reading, and research that there is always something more complex and infinitely more powerful than what we believe about Asian Americans. 

E 314L • Banned Books And Novel Ideas

34957 • Fall 2017
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM BEN 1.126

E 314L  l  3-Banned Books and Novel Ideas


Instructor:  Chi, C

Unique #:  34957

Semester:  Fall 2017

Cross-lists:  n/a

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 this course, we will discuss the recuperation and valorization of “transgression,” “madness,” and the “other” in modern literature of different cultural contexts.  Students will pay close attention to the literary motif, “madness,” and how this madness becomes a radical critique of society.  “Madness” is often located outside of language, thought, and reason, yet “madness” haunts many literary novels, especially in the articulations of memory, trauma, and gendered and racial oppression.


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.


Tentative Texts:  Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway; Charlotte Perkins Gilman's “The Yellow Wall Paper;” and Nella Larson's Passing.


Requirements & Grading:  There will be a series of 3 short essays, the first of which must be revised and resubmitted.  Subsequent essays may also be revised and resubmitted by arrangement with the Instructor (70% of the final grade).  Other graded material may include: in-class presentations and weekly reading journals (30% of the final grade).

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