ENGL 259 A: Literature and Social Difference

Meeting Time: 
MW 2:30pm - 4:20pm
MEB 242
Shawn Wong
Shawn Wong

Syllabus Description:

Professor Shawn Wong

B423 Padelford Hall (4th floor)



Office Hours: MW 10:00-11:00, and by appt.


Reading Immigration and Race: Studies in Exclusion, Expulsion & Internment in Asian America


Chinese and Japanese Americans have experienced a long history of exclusion, expulsion and internment in the US.   Only by reading Asian American creative work will we be able to understand how life was lived under those restrictive laws that included alien land laws, anti-miscegenation laws, etc. Through this literary and historical investigation, we will be able to draw ourselves into the current dialogue on race and immigration.

This course satisfies the following requirements:  W-course, DIV, VLPA

Because many of you are social science and science majors where much of the work in those disciplines is collaborative, I’ve designed several collaborative projects/assignments for this class.


Required Reading:

The Big Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Chinese American and Japanese American Literature, Edited by Jeffery Chan, Frank Chin, Lawson Inada and Shawn Wong 

What are the course requirements?

  • Complete all the written and reading assignments listed in the schedule below.
  • Complete the reading assignments by the dates shown on the schedule.
  • Participate in discussion.
  • Participate in peer review/discussion groups.


Required Assignments:


Presentation and Discussion

Each working collaborative group must lead a discussion of the reading (see schedule below). The first half of class will be your presentation and class discussion of the reading.  The second half of class, I will fill in anything that we missed during discussion and talk about the historical period of the literary piece.  

Your discussion should include the following:

  • At least six discussion questions either uploaded to Canvas "Discussions" prior to the presentation or just after the presentation.
  • One member of your group should be the presentation notetaker of both the class discussion in the first hour and the discussion of the historical context in the second half of class.
  • The notes from the discussion and the discussion questions should be uploaded to Canvas Discussions under your group name.

Collaborative Response Paper

A discussion group different from the one presenting must write a short collaborative response paper about the assigned reading under discussion and upload it to the Canvas Discussion site.  The response paper is a 350 to 700 word summary of your group's discussion of the reading prior to the discussion and/or after.  One response paper per group.


Writing Assignments

There is one 5-page essay (about 1750 words) due at the end of the quarter on Friday, March 9th.  Prior to that the essay needs to meet three preliminary deadlines.  The first deadline is a simple one or two sentence statement of the scope of your proposed essay.  The second deadline is a 350 word or one page summary of your central points in the essay or sometimes known as an abstract.  The third deadline is the final version of your essay.  Only the final version will be graded.  Both the one page abstract and the final version must be peer reviewed with comments from the members in your small discussion group.

The due dates for each of these steps are:

  1. One or two sentence statement of proposed essay:  February 7th  
  2. One page abstract:  February 14th
  3. Peer review comments on one page abstract:  February 16th
  4. Draft of final essay for peer reviewers:  February 28th
  5. Peer review comments on draft of essay:  March 5th
  6. Final essay:  March 9th

Your final essay needs to include a discussion of the following:

  • At least two of the readings from the text.
  • A comparative analysis of the historical period of the literature you have chosen with another ethnic group in America from the same historical period.  It can be another Asian ethnic group or any other ethnic group in the US.


There will be three exams, each covering approximately a third of the course content and no comprehensive final.  The first two exams will be in-class collaborative exams, which means each of the small discussion groups will submit one completed exam per group.  The exams will be timed exams (about 50 minutes) and taken on-line and in class.  All exams are open book and open notes.  Exam 3 will be taken individually on the last day of instruction.  Exam questions are taken and/or designed from group discussion questions and notes and group response papers posted on Canvas "Discussions".


How am I graded in the course?

The collaborative presentations and collaborative response papers are graded on a 4.0 scale.  Every student in your discussion group will receive the same grade with the following exceptions:  you are not present when your group presents and/or you did not participate in the writing of the response paper.

A rubric will be applied to the final essay:

  •  Sentence structure needs improvement
  • Misspellings, typos, or other grammatical errors
  • Essay needs better organization


You should try to answer the following questions in your response papers:

  • What do you think is the premise of the story (the idea that drives the story)?
  • What questions do you have of the story following your reading?
  • If you were to create an exam question that reflects what you think is the most important point in the story, what would that question be?


Groups leading discussion should also refer to the above bulleted points as a guide to designing discussion questions for the class.


A single grade is given out at the end of the class based on the following percentages:

  • 70%: Completion of all the written and reading assignments by the due dates.
  • 15%: Group presentation/discussion.
  • 15%: Exams


How and when do I turn in assignments?


All assignments are due in Canvas "Assignments" or in Canvas "Discussions".


  • On the first page of your assignment, include your name or your the names of your group members.


  • Insert page numbers.


  • Submit all assignments in 12-point type and double-spaced.






Peer Discussion Groups: (your groups were named after books I’ve published or films I wrote…)


Peer Working Team 1:  American Knees (novel)

Suchunya Kiatipoj

Nina Kim

Madelaine Vanderheyden

Christina Tran


Peer Working Team 2: Homebase (novel)

Benjamin Evans

Charles Mihran

Min Park 

Ryan Bartruff


Peer Working Team 3: Aiiieeeee! (anthology)

Jillian Carpenter

Samira Pashayeva

Amy Rickel

Vannie Sam


Peer Working Team 4: The Big Aiiieeeee! (anthology)

Amit Galitzky

Erin Higgins

Karlee Johnston 

Vivian Pham


Peer Working Team 5: Asian Diasporas (anthology)

Chloe Cho

Kendra Jackson

Gissell Torres

 Natalya Zagorodnyaya


Peer Working Team 6: Asian American Literature (anthology)

James Beatty

Sarah Byron

Prince Wang

Grace Zhu


Peer Working Team 7: Before Columbus Foundation Fiction (anthology)

Ervin Ham

Amogh Pershad

Jasmine Shen

Jocelyn Wang 


Peer Working Team 8: Before Columbus Foundation Poetry (anthology)

Will Cheng

Maggie Lee

Terri Tran

Jattarin Vernon 


Peer Working Team 9: Americanese (movie)

Janet Contreras-Guervara

Joel McCafferty

Boden Slagle

Robert Williams


Peer Working Team 10: Dolci (short film)

Alexis Fleming

Jasmine Hawkins

Haily Ho

Arielle Howell 


Peer Working Team 11: The Ancient and Occupied Heart of Greg Li (novel, forthcoming)

Antonio Castelli

Moses Chong

Ha Nguyen

Bernt Onarheim 


Course Reading and Class Schedule:

The dates below indicate the day we will be discussing the reading in class, so you should have read the selection prior to the date shown.


Jan. 8:             read Introduction and "An English-Chinese Phrase Book"


Jan. 10:             Poems from Songs of Gold Mountain


Jan. 15:            Holiday


Jan. 17:             Three Short Stories by Sui Sin Far

Discussion led by "American Knees" Group

Response Paper:  The Ancient and Occupied Heart of Greg Li Group


Jan. 22:             A Farmer's Life from Hawaii: End of the Rainbow

                         Exam #1                       

Discussion led by "Homebase" Group 

Response Paper:  Dolci Group

Jan. 24:            And the Soul Shall Dance, Act One

                        The Seventh Street Philosopher

 Discussion led by "Aiiieeeee!" Group

Response Paper:  Americanese Group

 Jan. 29:            from Nisei Daughter

                          from All I Asking For Is My Body

Discussion led by "The Big Aiiieeeee!" Group

Response Paper:  Before Columbus Foundation Poetry Group


 Jan. 31:            The Shoyu Kid

                          Laughter and False Teeth

Discussion led by "Asian Diasporas" Group

Response Paper:  Before Columbus Foundation Fiction Group           


 Feb. 5:             The Legend of Miss Sasagawara

                         Poetic Reflections of the Tule Lake Internment Camp 1944

Discussion led by "Asian American Literature" Group

Response Paper:  Asian Diasporas Group


Feb. 7:            The University of California Japanese Evacuation and Resettlement Study: A Prolegomenon

                       from Years of Infamy: The Untold Story of America's Concentration Camps   

Discussion led by "Before Columbus Fiction" Group

Response Paper:  Asian American Literature Group               


                        Exam #2


Feb. 12:            Good Law vs. Good Publicity

                         Two Short Stories:  "Relocation" and "Nurse"   

Discussion led by "Before Columbus Poetry" Group 

Response Paper:  The Big Aiiieeeee! Group     


Feb. 14:           from Obasan

                        from No-No Boy

Discussion led by "Americanese" Group

Response Paper:   Aiiieeeee! Group


Feb. 19:             Holiday


Feb. 21:           from Eat a Bowl of Tea

                        The Only Real Day

Discussion led by "Dolci" Group

Response Paper:  Homebase Group


Feb. 26:           Cheap Labor

                        In a World Small Enough

Discussion led by "The Ancient and Occupied Heart of Greg Li" Group

Response Paper:  American Knees Group


Feb. 28:           Four Poems by Wing Tek Lum


March 5:           Five Poems by Lawson Fusao Inada


March 7:          Last day of class                          

                        Exam #3






Catalog Description: 
Literary texts are important evidence for social difference (gender, race, class, ethnicity, language, citizenship status, sexuality, ability) in contemporary and historical contexts. Examines texts that encourage and provoke us to ask larger questions about identity, power, privilege, society, and the role of culture in present-day or historical settings.
GE Requirements: 
Diversity (DIV)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 10:20pm