Asian/Asian American Studies 201D: Introduction to Asian/Asian American Studies
Fall 2016
T/TH 11:30-12:50

Maki Smith
Office: Upham Hall 111-B
Office Hours: T/TH 2-3, or by appointment

Course Description:
Peoples of Asian descent have a long history in the U.S., and they are currently the fasted growing racial group in the nation. As such, attending to the Asian/Asian American experience has much to tell us about themes and conflicts that vex our contemporary moment: immigration and migration, citizenship, war, American empire, race and identity, globalization, and social movements for racial and economic justice. This course will examine Asian Americans through U.S.-national and transnational frameworks, and will be principally concerned with the contests over the production of racial knowledge, power, and citizenship and belonging.

Through critical analysis of historical, scholarly, literary, and visual texts, we will complicate existing narratives of immigration and assimilation; complicate the assumed homogeneity of the category of “Asian American”; explore the historical and contemporary production of the “model minority myth”; situate Asian Americans within global and transnational frameworks; and track the continuing evolution of the interdisciplinary field of Asian American Studies.

The class will be divided into two parts. The first is mainly historical and is meant to introduce some of the key moments and theoretical frameworks in the field. The second moves into our contemporary moment and focuses much more on representations of Asian Americans in popular culture, mass media and technology, and sport. Here we will shift our analysis away from the historical and instead explore the tensions between mass representation and self-representation today.

Required Texts:

  • Jean Yu-Wen Shen Wu and Thomas C. Chen, Asian American Studies Now: A Critical Reader (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2010).
    *AASN in the schedule
  • Asian American Sporting Cultures by Stanley I. Thangaraj, Constancio R. Arnoldo, Jr., and Christina B. Chin (New York: New York University Press, 2016).
    *AASC in the schedule
  • All additional readings on Canvas

Course Expectations
First and foremost, the process of learning in this class will be a truly collaborative practice. I will provide some historical context and theoretical framing each meeting, but a significant portion of each class will be made up of discussion of assigned readings. As such, students are expected to come to each meeting prepared and engaged with the materials. This means 1) having done the readings; 2) preparing/organizing a set of thoughts/questions; and 3) participating/engaging fully in our discussions.

Learning Expectations:

  • Understand key concepts and themes in Asian American Studies
  • Ability to engage in close reading and make connections across multiple texts
  • Ability to situate specific cultural practices within their particular historical and social contexts
  • Ability to “read” and analyze a wide array of “texts,” including literary, scholarly, journalistic, visual, and digital.
  • Ability to articulate cogent arguments/analyses in written and verbal form

Course Requirements and Grade Distribution:

  • Participation and attendance 25%
  • Mid-Term (take home) 25%
  • Short writing assignments (more below) 25%
  • Final Project 25%

Regular attendance and prior preparation are essential in creating a productive space of collaborative and sophisticated inquiry. This means we are all responsible for creating and maintaining a vigorous and spirited learning environment. As such, it is imperative that students maintain regular attendance and come to each meeting prepared to engage in thoughtful discussion.

At the end of the first half of the semester, I will assign a take-home mid-term. It will consist of 2-3 essay questions as well as 2-3 identifications. Each essay needs to be between 300-400 words (about a page and a half to 2 pages).

Short Writing Assignments:
Throughout the semester, students will be responsible for completing short writing assignments to be posted on Canvas. These will be made up of two different writing exercises. The first is “Reading Questions.” At 5PM the DAY BEFORE our scheduled meeting each student must complete and upload the assignment to Canvas. The “Reading Questions” are as follows:

    • What is/are the main argument of the assigned reading(s)?
    • What are 3 pieces of evident each author uses to support her/his argument?
    • How do the readings connect to other readings and class lectures and discussions we’ve had so far?
    • What is one question you had about the reading?

*Each student will be responsible for TWO “Reading Questions” responses.

The second exercise is a blog post on a piece Asian American culture. This can include anything from music, film, sports, food, and popular culture. Because the second half of the class focuses on Asian American culture today, I want you to apply the topics and themes covered in the class to your everyday interactions with the world and media. Whether you engage with the world through Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, or newspapers, or music, or, or any other platform, you will come across Asian American culture or representations.

For this exercise, each student will post a link to an article, a short video clip, a song, or whatever else to Canvas, along with a short (100-200 words) description of the object and its significance in relation to the themes discussed in class.
*Each student will be responsible for TWO blog posts.

Final Project:
*Can be completed as an individual or in a group – student choice
The final project is an opportunity for you to further explore an aspect of Asian American culture you are interested in. Although it is not required, it is recommended that you choose a topic that coincides with topics/themes covered in the course. That way, you will have already developed a sophisticated and complex understanding of your topic, which will function as an important foundation for your project. The project should make use of relevant “cultural productions and texts” associated with your topic. Examples include music, images, videos/movies, websites, scholarly/literary/creative writing.

The format of the project is similar to the midterm and blog post assignments. Each individual (whether in a group or not) will be responsible for a substantive piece of writing (1000-1200 words) and a group/individual presentation. The essay should engage with the themes discussed in class in relation to your topic. The presentation is an opportunity to make use of media (music, video clips, images, etc.) in ways not possible through writing. Basically, this will be a chance to explore your topic with greater detail and texture.

Students are expected to complete the readings and assignments for the date they are due. Please review the syllabus so can plan ahead for deadlines. Unless otherwise noted, all assignments are due at the beginning of class. Any late assignments will be marked down by 10% automatically and will continue to be reduced by 10% for each day they are late.

Disability Resources Statement:
Students requiring accommodations due to a disability for this course need to provide a current accommodation letter issued by a physician or specialist in support of the accommodation request. For more information, please visit the Student Disability Services webpage:

Miami University Academic Honesty Policy:
Academic dishonesty is defined in the Miami University Student Handbook as any activity that compromises the academic integrity of the institution or subverts the educational process. This course follows Miami University’s policy regarding academic integrity, which can be found here:

Course Schedule:

Week Day Topic Readings Due
Assignment Due
1 8/30 Introduction to Asian American Studies
9/1 -Gary Okihiro, “When and Where I Enter” (AASN)

-Yen Le Espiritu, Asian American Panethnicity” CANVAS

2 9/6 Theorizing Race in Asian America -Michael Omi and Howard Winant, “On the Theoretical Concept of Race,” CANVAS

-Angelo Ancheta, “Neither Black Nor White” (AASN)

9/8 Constructing the Oriental Other -Erika Lee, “The Chinese Are Coming. How Can We Stop Them?’: Chinese Exclusion and the Origins of Gatekeeping” (AASN)

-Nayan Shah, “Public Health and the Mapping of Chinatown” (AASN)

3 9/13 Immigration, Legal Citizenship, and the Making of Race -Lisa Lowe, “Immigration, Citizenship and Racialization: An Asian American Critique” in Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996) CANVAS Reading Questions (Group 1)
9/15 -Erika Lee, “Orientalisms in the Americas: A Hemispheric Approach to Asian American History” PDF
4 9/20 A Global/Transnational Approach -Yen Le Espiritu, “Homes, Borders, and Possibilities” (AASN)

-Lisa Lowe, “Heterogeneity, Hybridity, Multiplicity: Asian American Differences” in Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996) PDF

Reading Questions (Group 2)
9/22 War, Colonialism, and Imperial Violence -Mae Ngai, “From Colonial Subjects to Undesirable Aliens: Filipino Migration in the Invisible Empire” in Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004) CANVAS

-Davianna Pomaika’i McGregor, “Recognizing Native Hawaiians: A Quest for Sovereignty” (AASN)

5 9/27 -Michi Nishiura Weglyn, “The Secret Munson Report” (AASN)
9/29 Demystifying the “Model Minority Myth” -“Success Story, Japanese American Style” New York Times, 1966 CANVAS

-Robert G. Lee, “The Cold War Origins of the Model Minority Myth” (AASN)

Reading Questions (Group 1)
6 10/4 -Vijay Prashad, “Of the Origin of Desis and Some Principles of State Selection” in The Karma of Brown Folk (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000) CANVAS
10/6 The Limits of Asian American Inclusion -Helen Zia, “Detroit Blues: Because of You Motherfuckers” (AASN)

– In class film Who Killed Vincent Chin?

7 10/11 -“Occult Racism: The Masking of Race in the Hmong Hunter Incident” (AASN)

– Eric Tang, “Collateral Damage: Southeast Asian Poverty in the United States” (AASN)

Reading Questions (Group 2)
10/13 -Elaine Kim, “Home is Where the Han Is: A Korean American Perspective on the Los Angeles Upheavals” (AASN

-In class film Sai-I-Gu

Assign Mid-Term

8 10/18 NO READING. In class test prep/questions
10/20 NO CLASS. Work on your exams!
9 10/25 Representation and Identity in the Age of Neoliberalism NO READING. In class film Better Luck Tomorrow Mid-Term Due IN CLASS
10/27 -Sunaina Maira, “Trance-Formations: Orientalism and Cosmopolitanism in Youth Culture” in East Main Street: Asian American Popular Culture ed. Shilpa Dave, LeiLani Nishime, and Tasha G. Oren (New York: New York University Press, 2005) CANVAS

– Hiram Perez, “How to Rehabilitate a Mulatto: The Iconography of Tiger Woods” in East Main Street: Asian American Popular Culture ed. Shilpa Dave, LeiLani Nishime, and Tasha G. Oren (New York: New York University Press, 2005) CANVAS

10 11/1 -“Introduction: You Play Sports?: Asian American Sporting Matters (AASC)

-“Linsanity” Forum in Amerasia Journal CANVAS


11/3 -Constancio R. Arnaldo Jr., “Manny ‘Pac-Man’ Pacquiao, the Transnational East, and the Southern California Riverside Community” (AASC)

-Jessica W. Chin and David L. Andrews, “Mixed Martial Arts, Caged Orientalism, and Female Asian American Bodies” (AASC)

11 11/8 -Oliver Wang, “Learning from Los Kogi Angeles: A Taco Truck and Its City” in Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader ed. by Robert Ji-Song Ku, Martin F. Manalansan IV, and Anita Mannur (New York: New York University Press, 2013) CANVAS

-Lok Siu, “Twenty-First-Century Food Trucks: Mobility, Social Media, and Urban Hipness” in Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader ed. by Robert Ji-Song Ku, Martin F. Manalansan IV, and Anita Mannur (New York: New York University Press, 2013) CANVAS

11/10 Digital and Material Labor -Christine Bacareza Balance, “How it Feels to Be Viral Me: Affective Labor and Asian American YouTube Performance,” Women’s Studies Quarterly 40, 1/2 (2012) CANVAS

-Eun-Young Jung, “Transnational Migrations and YouTube Sensations: Korean Americans, Popular Music, and Social Media,” Ethnomusicology 58, 1 (2014) CANVAS

12 11/15 -Lisa Nakamura, “Measuring Race on the Internet: Users, Identity, and Cultural Difference in the United States” in Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008) CANVAS

-Min-Ha T. Pham, Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet, Introduction CANVAS

11/17 NO CLASS
13 11/22 -Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet Chapter 2 CANVAS

-Also watch short documentary before class. Yellow Apparel: When the Coolies Becomes Cool

-In class film The True Cost

11/24 NO CLASS
14 11/29 Race, Representation, and Popular Culture -“That Oxymoron, The Asian Comic Superhero,” New York Times, December 25 2015.

-“The Asian Superhero is Not an Oxymoron” response to NYT pieces on Nerds of Color blog.


12/1 -“There are No Asian American Movie Stars” on Nerds of Color blog.

-Select and read 2 entries from either Nerds of Color or Angry Asian Man blogs about representations of Asian Americans in popular culture and mass media

15 12/6 Presentations
12/8 Presentations