Current Courses

Winter 2024

ASIAN_AM 101Sharma
Mixed Race Memoir

Description: The purpose of the First Year Seminar is to introduce students to critical reading, analysis, and writing skills. We will hone these skills by focusing on an exciting and timely topic: memoirs by Asian Americans who identify as multiracial. This class will explore the complexity of the multiracial experience in the U.S. through the genre of memoir. Reading Crying in H Mart and other memoirs, we compare the experiences of multiracials representing a range of backgrounds, including Asian and White or Asian and Black and analyzing the impact of family structure, geography, etc. Memoirs and documentary films allow us to analyze changing (or unchanging) national discourses on (mixed) race, learn and apply theories of identity formation, and see how race intersects with gender, sexuality, family structure, looks, geography, and other factors. As a First Year Seminar, you are asked to read critically, write reflection and analysis papers, and provide arguments supported with evidence from the materials. Overall, this course views national debates about race, identity, and belonging through the lens of individual memoirs by self-identified multiracial Asian Americans.

First-Year Seminar
TTh9:30 AM - 10:50 AM
ASIAN_AM 210Fickle/Wei
Introduction to Asian American Studies

Description: Introduces students to the history and culture of Asian America from the late 19th century to the present. We will examine a broad range of media forms produced by and about Asian Americans, including court documents, literature, photographs and film, games, social media, and oral histories. Students will learn how the term "Asian American" emerged as a radical sign of 1960s political solidarity—to replace the term "Oriental" and to transcend individual ethnic designations like "Chinese American" or "Indian American"—and how that solidarity has been mobilized and challenged through contemporary contexts such as 9/11, COVID, affirmative action, Black Lives Matter, and the rise of China.

Social & Behavioral Sciences
MW12:20 PM - 1:50 PM
Contemporary Asian American Communities

Description: Framing Asian Americans as "model minorities" has long obscured the "issues" Asian American communities face. In this course, we examine the contradictions and convergences around forming "Asian American community," including the personal, political, and material stakes of identity and cultural citizenship, group consciousness within and between communities, and family and intergenerational relationships. We explore the debates about and opportunities for solidarity through Asian American communities' relationships to immigration, labor, mental health, education, transnationalism, environmental racism, and gentrification. Throughout the course, we ask about the role of space and place for these communities in various regions of the U.S. and locally in the Chicagoland area. Students will co-construct knowledge by learning with and from local Asian American communities.

Social & Behavioral Sciences
TTh11:00 AM - 12:20 PM
Critical Studies in Journalism

Description: This advanced level course examines how journalists produce and circulate meaning within and across societies. We consider the structural and institutional factors that influence the production of news, the practice of journalism norms, values, and routines, and the influence of real and imagined news audiences in journalistic knowledge production. Along the way, we pay careful attention to journalist positionality and the affective labor of journalists of color, including newsroom DEI initiatives and transnational identities in foreign correspondence. We explore ways to address the issues we discuss, including local or community reporting, ethnic media, and solutions journalism. Students will apply their learning to a community-based journalism project.

Social & Behavioral Sciences
TTh2:00 PM - 3:20 PM
ASIAN_AM 303Merseth
Asian Americans, Latinos, and Black Protest

Description: This course explores the promises and pitfalls of cross-racial solidarity in the contemporary United States by examining the response of Asian American and Latino communities to Black protest. Topics include histories of cross-racial, multi-ethnic political activism in the U.S., foundations of anti-Blackness and beliefs about anti-Black racism among Asian Americans and Latinos, and how Latino and Asian communities in the U.S. responded to the racial uprisings of 2020 led by Black protest against police violence and systemic racism in the U.S. and globally.

Social & Behavioral Sciences
MW2:00 PM - 3:20 PM
ASIAN_AM 370/HISTORY 300-0-38Koul
South Asians in the World

Description: Why did South Asians migrate and settle outside South Asia? What are the historical origins of South Asian diasporic communities in Africa, South-east Asia, Europe, and North America? How did South Asia's encounter with colonialism affect the migration of South Asians elsewhere? In this thematic survey, we will learn about the history of South Asians' migration from the nineteenth century to the present, with special emphasis on the historical inter-relatedness of migration, colonialism, and decolonization. Our cast of characters will range from soldiers and exiles to laborers and merchants. We will traverse a diverse array of geographies, ranging from Singapore and Fiji to Uganda and Britain. We will discover how South Asian communities in various parts of the world were made and unmade by colonial economic imperatives, often exploitative trans-oceanic labor networks, and colonial categories of social identification. Instead of being erased by mid-twentieth century decolonization, South Asians' migration was reshaped by national imperatives of the 'home' country on the one hand, and the new political and economic order of the post-World War II world on the other. The course is divided into two parts. In Part I, we walk through the history of South Asian migration, paying attention to the changing historical contexts and causes of this phenomenon. In Part II, we dive deeper into socio-religious characteristics of South Asian migrants, such as caste hierarchies and gender relations, and examine why these features have persisted, and been reinvented in some instances, despite centuries of habitation outside South Asia. Requirements for this class are class participation, a primary source analysis, a mid-term paper, and a final paper.

Social & Behavioral Sciences
TTh11:00 AM - 12:20 PM
Performing Asian America

Description: This course examines the Asian American experience through theatre, performance art, spoken word, stand-up comedy, and social performances (for example, protests and family history projects). Our objective is to understand how these performances are critical practices in narrating and remembering significant moments in Asian American history. In doing so, we will discuss the intersectionalities of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in relation to topics of im/migration and citizenship; U.S. imperialism and war; identity and community formation; trauma and memory; and social justice and activism. We will read key works in Asian American history, cultural studies, performance studies, and theatre studies.

Literature & Fine Arts
MW11:00 AM - 12:20 PM
ASIAN_AM 392/ANTHRO 390Shankar
Advanced Topics in South Asian American Cultures

Description: This class offers an in-depth examination of South Asian Americans in the United States. We will delve deeply into topics of race/ethnicity, language, gender/sexuality, caste, class, and migration, with comparative examples drawn from the UK and Canada. Case studies will be drawn from anthropology, Asian American studies, literary fiction, memoir. We will additionally watch and analyze various relevant film, television, and social media, with a focus on global flows of South Asian culture. South Asian American cultures (part 1) or some social science or humanities coursework is recommended but not required.

TTh12:30 PM - 1:50 PM
Asian American Uncivil Rights

Description: Political commentators often bemoan the state of civility in political discourse, calling for unity and understanding on all sides. But, is civility the ultimate goal? In this course, we examine the relationship between Asian American politics and civility. How do existing definitions of civility constrain and create opportunities for political discourse and material change? What about the underlying ideologies that circulate through mass media and in mainstream discourse that set the parameters of civility? We explore spaces typically associated with civility, such as classrooms, religious institutions, and electoral politics, to answer this question. We further complicate the question by asking about the place of incivility in Asian American politics and the struggle for recognition, rights, and radical change.

TTh5:00 PM - 6:30 PM