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ENGL 259 A: Literature and Social Difference

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
MW 9:40am - 11:50am
ECE 031
Shawn Wong
Shawn Wong

Syllabus Description:

Professor Shawn Wong

B423 Padelford Hall (4th floor)


Office Hours: MW 2:30-3:30, Tuesdays by appointment.

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 

No-No Boy by John Okada (University of Washington Press edition)

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:

Collaborative Response Paper

Each discussion group 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 about a 350 word (one double-spaced page) summary of your group's discussion of the reading prior to the discussion and/or after.  

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?


Writing Assignments

There is one 5-page essay (about 1750 words) due at the end of the quarter.  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. 

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

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.


Discussion Groups:

1. Ruiqi Wang, Angel Wong

2. Rachel Shi, Chloe Lee

3. Peter Beidler, Nikki Torres

4. Matthew Kuly, Maria Obando

5. Anthony London, Michelle Nguyen, Supriya Ravishankar


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.


June 25:     Course overview

June 26:     Read Introduction and "An English-Chinese Phrase Book" (94)

July 1 :         Poems from Songs of Gold Mountain (140)

July 3:         Three Short Stories by Sui Sin Far (111)

                        from Eat a Bowl of Tea (507)

Response Paper: Group 1 (due July 2)

July 8:        Cheap Labor (563)

                        The Only Real Day (529)

                        In a World Small Enough (580)

Reponse Paper: Group 2 (due July 7)

                         Exam #1                       

July 10:       And the Soul Shall Dance, Act One (194)

                        The Seventh Street Philosopher (216)

Response Paper: Group 3 (due July 9)

 July 15:      from Nisei Daughter (222)

                          from All I Asking For Is My Body (233)

                        A Farmer's Life from Hawaii: End of the Rainbow (190)

Response Paper: Group 4 (due July 14)

July 17:        The Shoyu Kid (304)

                          Laughter and False Teeth (315)

Reponse Paper: Group 5 (due July 16)

July 22:        The Legend of Miss Sasagawara (340)

                         Poetic Reflections of the Tule Lake Internment Camp 1944 (355)

Response Paper: Group 1 (due July 21)

July 24:    The University of California Japanese Evacuation and Resettlement Study: A                     Prolegomenon (370)

                       from Years of Infamy: The Untold Story of America's Concentration Camps  (414)

Response Paper: Group 2 (due July 23)

                        Exam #2

July 29:      Good Law vs. Good Publicity (450)

                         Two Short Stories:  "Relocation" and "Nurse" (462)

Response Paper: Group 3 (due July 28)

July 31:      from Obasan (471)

Response Paper: Group 4 (due July 30)

August 5 - 19: No-No Boy by John Okada 

Response Paper: Group 5 (due on August 4) Response discussion only on the introductory essays, not the whole novel.

August 12:  NO CLASS TODAY. (I'm turning 70.  It's a national holiday.)

August 21:          Last day of class                          

Exam #3: (Exam #3 is an online exam which will go live from 9:40 to 11:50.  You do not need to come to class unless you want to use the classroom.  You can take the exam from anywhere with WiFi.  This is not a collaborative exam; everyone must take the exam.)




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)
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 10:20pm