The Program in American Studies is proud to announce the launch of the new course designation ASA for Asian American studies, marking the beginning of Princeton’s growing curriculum in Asian American studies. The program thanks acting director Judith Weisenfeld for her collaboration with the Registrar and the Office of the Dean of the College.
Below are current and recent Princeton undergraduate courses exploring the field.
AMS 307/ASA 201 Introduction to Asian American Studies: Race and War
Laurel Mei-Singh, Program in American Studies
This course employs the central premise that multiple racial projects contribute to Asian racial formation, and that warfare plays a central role in these co-constitutive enterprises. As such, this course will examine war, its entanglement with capitalism, and social movements in relation to anti-Black racism, settler colonialism, and anti-Asian racism. As an introduction to Asian American studies course, we will use comparative, transnational frameworks to interrogate Asian Americanism. In order to accomplish this, we will develop critical perspectives of the Pacific while exploring the intersections of race and indigeneity.
AMS 301/ENG 432/GSS 338/ASA 301 Science Fiction and Fact
Tala Khanmalek, Programs in American Studies & Gender and Sexuality Studies
How does science fiction challenge “facts” about the biology of race, gender, sexuality and other categories of difference? This seminar explores the ways in which contemporary sci-fi that centers the experiences of marginalized communities reconceptualizes the techniques and technologies of social differentiation. The readings couple a sci-fi text with work by scholars across disciplines who have drawn attention to the reemergence of race as a biological rather than social category in genetics and genomics research.
AMS 310/ASA 310/ENG 434 Multiethnic American Short Stories: Tales We Tell Ourselves
Tessa Desmond, Program in American Studies
Short stories have been used by writers to make concise, insightful comments about American national identity and individuality. Taken up by African-Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and many others, the genre has been used to convey experiences with immigration and assimilation, discrimination and oppression, generational divides, and interactions across difference. Examination of such stories deepens our understanding of America'’s multiethnic landscape. In this seminar, we will explore stories written by a diverse group of writers to consider the ties that both link and divide multiethnic America.
CWR 316/AAS 336/ Special Topics in Poetry: Race, Identity and Innovation
ASA 316/LAO 316 Monica Y. Youn, Creative Writing, Lewis Center for the Arts
This workshop explores the link between racial identity and poetic innovation in work by contemporary poets of color. Experimental or avant-garde poetry in the American literary tradition has often defined itself as “impersonal,” “against expression” or “post-identity.” Unfortunately, this mindset has tended to exclude or downplay poems that engage issues of racial identity. This course explores works where poets of color have treated racial identity as a means to destabilize literary ideals of beauty, mastery and the autonomy of the text while at the same time engaging in poetic practices that subvert conceptions of identity or authenticity.
SAS 328 / AMS 329 / COM 352 / ASA 328 South Asian American Literature and Film
Sadaf Jaffer, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies
This course examines literature and film by South Asians in North America. Students will gain perspective on the experiences of immigration and diaspora through the themes of identity, memory, solidarity, and resistance. From early Sikh migration to the American West Coast, to Muslim identity in a post 9/11 world, how can South Asian American stories be read as symbolic of the American experience of gender, class, religion, and ethnicity more broadly? Students will hone their skills in reading primary materials, analyzing them within context, writing persuasively, and speaking clearly.
HIS 270/AMS 370 Asian American History
Beth Lew-Williams, Department of History
This course introduces students to the multiple and varied experiences of people of Asian heritage in the United States from the 19th century to the present day. It focuses on three major questions: (1) What brought Asians to the United States? (2) How did Asian Americans come to be viewed as a race? (3) How does Asian American experience transform our understanding of U.S. history? Using newspapers, novels, government reports, and films, this course will cover major topics in Asian American history, including Chinese exclusion, Japanese internment, transnational adoption, and the model minority stereotype.
AMS 307 Introduction to Asian American Studies: Race, War, Decolonization
Laurel Mei-Singh, Program in American Studies
This course employs the central premise that multiple racial projects contribute to Asian racial formation, and that warfare plays a central role in these co-constitutive enterprises. As such, this course will examine war, its entanglement with capitalism, and decolonization in relation to anti-Black racism, settler colonialism, and anti-Asian racism. As an introduction to Asian American studies course, we will use comparative, transnational frameworks to interrogate Asian Americanism. In order to accomplish this, we will develop critical perspectives of the Pacific while exploring the intersections of race and indigeneity.
AMS 349 Making History with Multimedia: Asian American and Asian Migration Storytelling through Film
Henry Yu, Program in American Studies
The stories of Asian Americans and global Asian migrants have commonly been told through film and multimedia rather than textual representations. Underrepresented in narratives of U.S. history, activists and community-based filmmakers have often turned to film and digital media forms to document and story-tell about neglected subjects. This course examines a selection of Asian American films and at the same time asks students to create projects using multimedia tools. We will work together to learn basic filmmaking techniques through weekly workshops with the goal of being able to produce your own short film by the end of the term.
SAS 328/AMS 329 South Asian American Literature and Film
Sadaf Jaffer, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies
This course examines literature and film by South Asians in North America. Students will gain perspective on the experiences of immigration and diaspora through the themes of identity, memory, solidarity, and resistance. From early Sikh migration to the American West Coast to Muslim identity in a post 9/11 world, how can South Asian American stories be read as symbolic of the American experience of gender, class, religion, and ethnicity more broadly? Students will hone their skills in reading primary materials, analyzing them within context, writing persuasively, and speaking clearly.
AMS 362 “Yellow Peril”: Documenting and Understanding Xenophobia
John K. Tchen
Fears of “yellow peril” (and “Islamophobia”) run deep in the present and past of U.S. political and commercial culture. SARS fears, charges of Chinese “pirating” and “hacking,” the profiling of Arab or Muslim “looking” peoples, and Asians “taking over” U.S. higher education all illustrate contemporary forms of Asian “peril.” Americans remain particularly vulnerable to its ideological and affective power.
Seminar students will learn historical research skills and collaboratively document historical and contemporary case studies. We’ll explore what can and must be done to counter these fallacies and practices.
AMS 360 / ENG 387 Afro-Asian Masculinities
Kinohi Nishikawa, Departments of English and African American Studies
The course undertakes a comparative, cross-cultural analysis of African American and Asian American social formations. In doing so, it aims to highlight when and how seemingly distinct racial and ethnic experiences have come together on matters of labor, citizenship, international politics, and especially gender and sexual ideology. It attends to cross-cultural dialogue as well: for example, in the martial arts (Bruce Lee) and hip-hop (Wu-Tang Clan). The course offers a unique opportunity to bring ethnic studies, Black studies, and gender studies into dynamic conversation.
MUS 255 / EAS 255 Taiko Drumming Workshop: Japanese and North American Perspectives
Noriko Manabe and Kaoru Watanabe, Department of Music
This course explores the sociocultural meanings of taiko (Japanese drum) from its uses in traditional Japanese music (gagaku, kabuki, festival music) through its development as a choreographic ensemble in postwar Japan and a site for Asian-American identity. Students participate in hands-on workshop, learning techniques and three pieces of traditional modern styles, and in seminars on the history and cultural implications of taiko in the Japanese and Asian-American experience.
“Introduction to Asian American History,” Beth Lew-Williams, Department of History
“Asian Wars in American Film,” David Leheny, Department of East Asian Studies
“Literature and Food,” Anne A. Cheng, Program in American Studies; Department of English; Center for African American Studies
AAS 225 / ENG 224 / GSS 225 Introduction to Asian American Studies: Too Cute! and the New Asia-Mania
Anne Cheng, Department of English and African American Studies
What does a minute and shallow category like “cuteness” have to do with a serious subject like race? This course offers an introduction to key terms in Asian American studies through the lens of the seemingly insatiable American appetite for “Asian cuteness.” How do we reconcile this craving with the history of anti-Asian sentiments in this country? Are other races or racial styles cute? If not, why not? We will explore cuteness as commodity, globalization, aesthetics, affect, and politics. Above all, we want to understand the relationship between race and style.
AMS 354 Asian Americans and Public History/Memory
Franklin Odo, Department of History
This seminar focuses on two major events in American History, the WWII incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans and the impact of the 1882 Chinese Exclusions Act, as well as Congressional apology or expression of regret for having enacted racially damaging legislation. We review the process of legislation, roles of executive and judicial branches, and immediate and long-term impacts on targeted populations. We trace development of successful redress efforts and meanings for American history and memory, especially through public history venues.
ENG 224/AMS 304 Asian American Law, Bodies and the Everyday
Anne Cheng, Department of English; Program in African American Studies
This course studies the relationship between law and literature by focusing on the roles that Asian Americans played in US constitutional history. We will examine cases involving Asian Americans that reflect on American policies on citizenship, immigration, civil rights, human rights, and foreign policy, and we will explore novels, plays, poems, and films that respond to these cases. We will also consider the invisible ways in which the law shapes our everyday lives: how it structures our feelings, bodies, spaces, and the sense of the quotidian.
AAS 340/ENG 391/AMS 340 Shades of Passing
Anne Cheng, Department of English, Program in African American Studies
This course studies the trope of passing in 20th-century American literary and cinematic narratives in an effort to re-examine the crisis of identity that both produces and confounds acts of passing. We will examine how American novelists and filmmakers have portrayed and responded to this social phenomenon, not as merely a social performance but as a profound intersubjective process embedded within history, law, and culture. We will focus on narratives of passing across axes of difference, invoking questions such as: To what extent does the act of passing reinforce or unhinge seemingly natural categories of race, gender, and sexuality?