Autumn 2011 Courses

Comparative Studies 241: Introduction to Asian American Studies

MW 9:30 – 11:18
Hagerty Hall 0050
Class # 26287
Perry Miller


English 581: Special Topics in U.S. Ethnic Literature and Culture

TR 1:30 – 3:18 p.m.
Denney Hall 250
Class # 22982
Prof. Ponce

"Comparative Ethnic Literary Studies." This course introduces students to the emergence and development of ethnic literary studies in the U.S. academy through a comparative framework. When and how did the literatures produced by and about African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, and Chicanos/as and Latinos/as enter the curricula of universities and colleges? What sorts of struggles did students and faculty face in institutionalizing these fields of study? What kinds of analytical models did they invent and evolve to document and examine these literary traditions? We will approach these questions by exploring, within the contexts of contemporaneous social movements, important literary and activist texts published in the 1960sand 70s that set the terms for various forms of cultural nationalism. We will also consider reassessments of those articulations, particularly through the lens of feminist critiques of male-centered identitarian politics. Throughout the course, we will attend to the intricate relations among race, ethnicity, nation, class, gender, and sexuality, with an eye toward coming to terms with the aesthetic and political dimensions of literature by writers of color.

Requirements: Attendance, participation, in-class work; 1 short paper (4-5 pages); 1 longer paper (6-8 pages); review report (in lieu of a final exam).

Minors: This course counts toward the American Indian Studies minor—either as an American Indian Studies course (if you focus your final project on that topic), or as a comparative ethnic studies course (if you do not). For information about the AIS minor, see

This course counts toward the Asian American Studies minor, provided that you focus your final project on an Asian American topic. For information about the AAS minor, see

This course counts toward the Latino/a Studies minor, provided that you focus your final project on a Latino/a topic. For information about the minor, see


English 587: Studies in Asian American Literature and Culture

MW 1:30 – 3:18
Koffolt Laboratories 0205
Class # 26301
Prof. Jani

"Henna and Hip-hop: South Asians in the United States." This course investigates literature, film and nonfictional texts by and about South Asian Americans, paying special attention to the politics of identity formation. What notions of religion, gender, nation, class, and sexuality govern these identities? Where have South Asian Americans fit in terms of the racial and ethnic dynamics of American society? How have ideas about the "exotic" or "spiritual" East and the "materialist" West shaped the image (and self-image) of this group? Throughout, our aim will be to see the historical contexts within which these questions have changed—especially since greater immigration from Asia was allowed in 1965. We will specifically discuss how cultural identities have been shaped recently by corporate globalization and the global popularity of everything "Indian," from Bollywood, bhangra, and mehndi to writers and software engineers. The South Asian-British experience will also be referenced by way of comparison. By drawing on literary, cinematic, historical and ethnographic texts, this course seeks to provide students with an interdisciplinary framework for understanding the diverse and often conflicting ways through which the desi experience is portrayed and understood.

Key texts I am considering: Fiction: Monica Ali, Brick Lane; Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist; Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies; Sameer Parekh, Stealing the Ambassador. Film: Chutney Popcorn, Divided We Fall, Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, Mississippi Masala.

Requirements: Engaged class participation, working with blogs, in-class quizzes and a research project. See for class blogs from Winter 2010 and Summer 2010.

Minors: This course counts toward the South Asian Studies minor, as well as the Asian American Studies minor.


English 858: Graduate Seminar in U.S. Ethnic Literatures and Cultures

TR 9:30 – 11:18 a.m.
291 Journalism Building
Class # 26070
Prof. Ponce

"Queer of Color Literature and Theory." This course seeks to trace a genealogy of what has come to be known in the second millennium as "queer of color critique" by tracking its emergence before the advent of queer theory per se in the late 1980s and early 90s. While racial critiques of queer theory and queer critiques of racial nationalisms have proliferated since the late1990s, we will consider the extent to which issues of gender and sexual difference were already constitutive of articulations of 1960s and 70s cultural nationalisms. In this respect, we will look at important creative and critical interventions published during the 1970s and early 80s, particularly by women of color feminists and lesbians. We will then read a range of queer literatures by African American, American Indian, Asian American, and Chicano/a and Latino/a writers thatthematize not only racial and sexual difference but also nationalism, imperialism, labor, and migration. Broadly speaking, we will attempt to historicize intersectional models of cultural and political analysis by exploring the social contexts in which such approaches come into being and the intellectual traditions in which they are elaborated, the tensions that arise between conflicting political commitments and methodologies, and the specific burdens of critical analysis demanded by the exigencies of the historical present.

Requirements: Attendance; participation; presentation on a major anthology, monograph, or journal issue; contribution to an ongoing bibliography on queer of color literature and scholarship; final project.