Asian American Poetry
The term “Asian American” is often discussed as if it were both self-evident and immutably fixed. But Asian American writers do not always claim the label for themselves or for their work. Modern critics, too, have struggled to define conceptual similarities in Asian American literature, just as they have struggled to describe the limitations of the concept. Indeed, the question of authenticity or belonging is often raised: who counts? Who doesn’t?
This course asks you to reconsider such static boundaries. This course will introduce you to a cross-section of Asian American poetry and multi-genre work in an attempt to engage the complex socio-historical experience of Asian Americans, up to the present day. We will consider the work in the context in which it was created, examining each poet’s unique sensibilities as well as what is shared across time and space. We will deepen our understanding of Asian American poetry by finding common threads as well as disparate aesthetics. We will close read poems and weave in literary criticism, building an intimate yet contextualized understanding of a work. As writers, readers, and scholars, we will add our own stories and reflect on our process of responding to a text – honoring both self-awareness and engaged conversation. We will be reading texts from Marilyn Chin, Wong May, Theresa Hak Kung Cha, Fred Wah, Truong Tran, Cathy Park Hong, and more.
As part of a “W” credit course, students will be writing and revising two substantial paper assignments. In-class discussions, short response papers, paper proposals, and presentations will provide opportunities with which to develop these two longer papers. Indeed, we will be writing a great deal in this course! We will discover that writing is a process and strong writers practice daily.
* Asian American Poetry: A Course Reader (available at Professional Copy and Print)
* Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictee. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009 (from 1982).