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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Stephen H. Sumida
AAS 402
Seattle Campus

Contemporary Asian-American Literature

Asian-American literature from the 1940s to the present. Emphasis on the development of attitudes and identities in contemporary Asian-American literature, the role of the writer in a minority culture, and the relationship of literature to self and society.

Class description

The short description (above) of AAS 402 in the UW General Catalogue for Undergraduate Study emphasizes the "development of attitudes and identities," "the role of the writer in a minority culture," and "the relationship of literature to self and society" in Asian American literature from the 1940s to the present. While the works we shall study in AAS 402 do relate to these themes, in our course our studies will be framed by some of the analytical, interpretive paradigms, based on history, that contemporary Asian/Pacific American literature has invoked. In our course these paradigms go by the names of a "literature of immigration," a "literature of diaspora," and an "indigenous" literature, under an expanding and shifting category of Asian/Pacific American literature.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lecture and discussion. While work in the classroom is usually ethnically specific (focused on the study of the text at hand in relation to the history of the particular ethnic subject it is about), the course allows for a "comparative" study of literature in that the texts constitute a multi-ethnic range in Asian/Pacific American literature and history. For the student, the most concentrated study usually occurs in the writing of essays for the course.

Recommended preparation

The course will begin with Louis Chu's Eat a Bowl of Tea then go on to John Okada's No-No Boy and Carlos Bulosan's America Is in the Heart, followed by Maxine Hong Kingston's Woman Warrior, Sung Rno's Cleveland Raining, Teresa Cha's Dictee, Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies, and Sia Fiegiel's Where We Once Belonged. Students wanting to prepare for the course might begin with these readings.

Class assignments and grading

Two required essays, 5-6 pp. each, double spaced. Suggested topics will be handed out for each of the papers. A quarter-long series of quizzes is meant to credit students for being prepared for (and in) class and for being attentive to the lectures and discussions in class as well as to the readings.

Each of the two essays will count for 40% of each student's course grade. The total score for the quizzes will count for the remaining 20%.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Stephen H. Sumida
Date: 10/07/2008