Spring 2006, Oberlin College Dr. Jinzhao Li Office Hours

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Spring 2006, Oberlin College

Dr. Jinzhao Li Office Hours:

King 305C 3-4:30 pm

(440) 775-8378 Mondays and Wednesdays

Jinzhao.Li@oberlin.edu or by appointment

SOC215 Contemporary Asian American Experiences

1:30pm-2:45 pm, Mondays and Wednesdays, King Building 327

This course serves as an introduction to Asian American Studies, with a focus on Asian American experiences from the mid-twentieth century. We will explore such intriguing questions as who are Asian Americans, why Asian American Studies matters, and what is the future of Asian America. We will first have an overview of the concept, history, and demographic changes of Asian Americans, then we will delve into different themes and issues of contemporary Asian America. The topics will include Asian American movement and politics, life and work, family and community, immigration and assimilation, ethnic/gender/sexuality/class/religion identity, visual culture, activism, as well as their transnational and diasporic experiences.

The class will meet twice weekly, an hour and fifteen minutes for each session. Class activities will include lecture, student presentation, student-led discussion, video screening, guest talks, and field trips.

1. Mastery of such basic concepts in Asian American Studies, such as immigration, assimilation, community, family, race, ethnicity, and identity

2. Development of critical thinking about citizenship, diaspora, multiculturalism, model minority, class, gender, sexuality, religion, and art from the perspectives of Asian Americans

3. Ability to conduct multi-disciplinary research and write analytical paper on Asian Americans

5. Development of community activism through class and community activities

1. Students will be able to appropriately define and use those basic concepts in Asian American Studies in an essay exam and in the final paper

2. Students will be able to adequately evaluate an academic book or article on Asian Americans

3. Students will be able to demonstrate appropriate procedure and methods in conducting multi-disciplinary research and in analyzing data of different formats

4. Students will understand the importance and know basic techniques of community activism.


Yen Le Espiritu, Asian American Women and Men: Labor, Law, and Love (Sage, 1997)

Eric Liu, The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker (Random House, 1998)

Min Zhou and James V. Gatewood, Contemporary Asian America: A Multidisciplinary Reader (NYU, 2000) (referred to as The Reader in this syllabus)

Additional readings are posted on BlackBoard.

Lan Cao and Himilee Novas, Everything You Need to Know About Asian American History (Plume, 1996)

Sucheng Chan, Asian American: An Interpretive History (Twayne, 1991)

Yen Le Espiritu, Asian American Panethnicity (Temple, 1992)

Sonia Shah, Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire (South End, 1997)

Russell Leong, Asian American Sexualities (Routledge, 1996)

Conference Report (10%) A 4- to 5-page well-written summary and critique of a panel at the 14th Biennial Asian/Pacific American Midwest Student Conference, “Refocusing Our Lenses: Confronting Contemporary Issues of Globalization and Transnationalism,” Feb. 17-19, Oberlin College.
Presentation (20%) A twenty-minute presentation on one or several Asian American groups in either the third or fourth week. You can choose which topic you want to present during the first week of class. Evaluation standards will be discussed and decided by the whole class at the beginning of the semester.
Leading Class Discussion (20%) Each student is expected to pick a day and to be in charge of the class discussion of assigned readings. On that day, s/he needs to summarize the readings, prepare questions for discussion, and lead the discussion. Again, evaluation standards will be discussed and decided by the whole class at the beginning of the semester.
Mid-term Exam (20%) A 6- to 8-page essay on one out of three assigned topics that are based on the material we read during the first half of the semester. The three topics will be on the concept of Asian America, the debate over Asian American Panethnicity, and the issue of “model minority.” The exact topics and detailed instructions for the essay will be provided four weeks before the mid-term exam.
Final Research Paper (30%) A 10- to12-page research paper on any theme, issue, concept, or problem of your interest in the field of Asian American Studies. The paper needs to be multi-disciplinary or cross-disciplinary, meaning that you will have to use at least three different research methods (i.e. historical archival research, interview, and film analysis) or materials from three different disciplines (i.e. history, sociology, and literature) to development your argument. More detailed instruction and suggestion for topics will be provided after the mid-term exam.

You should talk to me about your paper ideas before you start writing. Since the paper best reflects your mastery of Asian American Studies concepts and research methods, you will present your research in class at the end of the semester.

Grading Policy: I use the following system of letter-grading –

C= Satisfactory. Work that fulfills all the basic requirements but goes no further.

B= Good. Work that goes beyond the basic requirements by demonstrating genuine understanding of the material, seriousness of purpose, and skill in execution.

A= Excellent. Work that is not only good, but shows a creative, imaginative incorporation of the material, a genuine investment in the subject-matter, and uncommon expertise in presentation.


Attend each class, arriving on time. Students who arrive more than ten minutes late will be noted as absent. Notify me in advance via e-mail if you will miss class. The first time you come back to class, you need to provide me a legitimate documentation (e.g. doctor’s note). More than two unexplained or unexcused absences will result automatically in the loss of credit (NE or F) for the entire course.

Complete reading and Participate in class discussion. It is imperative that each student come to class fully prepared with the reading and share equal responsibility for keeping a lively and quality discussion. You should budget a minimum of three hours per week for class preparation, even when it is not your turn to present or lead discussion in class.

Work with others. You will discover that you can teach each other far more than the instructor can teach you. What’s more, learning in groups is fun. You are expected to develop the class into a community space in which you help each other with the learning material, inform each other of the latest issues concerning Asian Americans, and share your insights in constructive ways.

Complete all required assignment. If you anticipate that you may miss a deadline because of illness or a personal emergency, notify me in advance via e-mail or in person. I expect you to turn in a doctor’s note or some other documentation before the assignment is due. Or your assignment will be graded one level lower for every calendar day past the due date (e.g. an A will slip to an A-, a B+ to a B)

Seek advice and help. I won’t be able to help you much unless you make an appointment to see me during my office hours (as shown on the front page of the syllabus). Please come to see me regarding any questions or difficulties you may have. If you cannot see me during my office hours, please send me an e-mail (Jinzhao.Li@oberlin.edu) or call me (775-8378) so that we can set up another time.

If you have a learning or other disability, seek assistance and accommodation through Jane Boomer, Coordinator of services for Students with Disabilities, in Room G27 Peters Hall, 775-8467. She will help you develop a plan to address your academic needs. Please see her in the first three weeks of the semester and notify me as soon as possible.

Follow the Honors code. Please consult your student handbook, the web page: http://www.oberlin.edu/students/student_pages/honor_code.html, or see me for details. Remember that at the end of each written assignment, you shall write in full and sign the HONOR PLEDGE: “I affirm that I have adhered to the Honor Code in this assignment.”
Tentative Schedule:
Week 1 Introduction: Goals, Requirements, Themes, and Resources
Feb 6 Introduction of Goals, Requirements, Themes, and Assignments
Feb 8 An Invitation to Asian America

Reading: Zhou, “Revisiting Contemporary Asian America” (Introduction, from

The Reader)

Espiritu, “Chapter 1: Labors, Laws, and Love,” Asian American Women

and Men

Video: “Slaying the Dragon”

Week 2-4 A Survey of Asian American History and Demographic Changes
Feb 13 Mapping Asian American Immigration in U.S. History
Reading: Audrey Singer, “The Rise of New Immigrant Gateways” (on


Curtis Roseman, “The Changing Ethnic Map of the United States” (on BlackBoard)

Ong and Liu, “U.S. Immigration Policies and Asian Migration” (from The


Video: “Ancestors in the Americas” (I)
Feb 15 Making History: The Asian American Experience
Reading: Takaki, “From a Different Shore,” (from The Reader)

Okihiro, “When and Where I Enter,” (from The Reader)

Espiritu, “Chapter 2, Stretching Gender, Family, and Community

Boundaries,” Asian American Women and Men

Video: “Ancestors in the Americas” (II)
Feb 20 Resources on Asian American: How to conduct effective research using print and electronic resources (This session will meet at the library: Mudd 443)
Feb 22 Presentations: Chinese, Japanese, Korean American Historical Experiences

Presentation 1: (20 minutes)

Presentation 2: (20 minutes)

Presentation 3: (20 minutes)

Discussion: Compare and Contrast the Political, Social, and Economic Contexts

of Immigration and the Identity Features of Chinese, Japanese, and

Korean Americans
Hand-out: Topics for the Mid-term Exam
Feb 27 Presentations: Filipino, South Asian, and Southeast Asian American Historical


Presentation 4: (20 minutes)

Presentation 5: (20 minutes)

Presentation 6: (20 minutes)

Discussion: Compare and Contrast the Political, Social, and Economic Contexts

of Immigration and the Identity Features of Filipino, South Asian, Southeast Asian Americans
Mar 1 Presentations: Demographic Changes

Presentation 1: Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Americans (20 minutes)

Presentation 2: Filipino, South Asian, and Southeast Asian Americans (20 minutes)

Discussion: How to Interpret the Demographic Features of Major Asian

American Groups
Week 5 -7 Contemporary Asian American Experiences
March 6 Asian America: The Movement and the Academic Field (I)

Reading: “Part I: Claiming Visibility” (from The Reader)

Video: “On Strike! Ethnic Studies, 1969-1999”
March 8 Asian America: The Movement and the Academic Field (II)

Reading: Espiritu, “Pan-Asian American Ethnicity” (on BlackBoard)

Liu, “The Accidental Asian,” The Accidental Asian

Video: “Who Killed Vincent Chin?”

Mar 13 Life, Work, and Family in Asian America (I)

Reading: “Part IV, Struggling to Get Ahead” (from The Reader)

Liu, “Song for My Father,” The Accidental Asian

Video: “Picture Bride”

Mar 15 Life, Work, and Family in Asian America (II)

Reading: “Part V, Ties that Bind” (from The Reader)

Liu, “The Chinatown Idea,” The Accidental Asian
Mar 20 Understanding “Model Minority” (I)

Reading: Espiritu, “Chapter 3, Changing Lives” and “Chapter 4, Contemporary Asian America,” Asian American Women and Men

Video: “Better Luck Tomorrow”
Mar 22 Understanding “Model Minority” (II)

Reading: “Part VII, Construction and Deconstruction of the ‘Model Minority”

(from The Reader)

Liu, “Notes of A Native Speaker,” & “New Jews,” The Accidental Asian

Mid-term Paper: Due on March 24

Week 8 Spring Recess
Week 9-14 Dynamic Asian American Identities
Apr 3 Gendering Asian America (I)

Reading: “Part VII, Women in Asian America” (from The Reader)

James A. Tyner, “The Social Construction of Gendered Migration from the Philippines” (from The Reader)
Apr 5 Gendering Asian America (II)

Reading: Sonia Shah, ed., “Awakening to Power,” Dragon Ladies (on


Video: “Picturing Oriental Girls”

Apr 10 Queering Asian America (I)

Reading: “Part X, Queering Asian America” (from The Reader)

Video: “Fated to be Queer”
Apr 12 Queering Asian America (II)

Reading: Eric Estuar Reyes, “Strategies for Queer Asian and Pacific Islander

Spaces” (on BlackBoard)

Cristy Chung, Aly Kim, Zoon Nguyen, Trinity Ordona and Arlene Stein, “In Our Own Way” (on BlackBoard)

David L. Eng, “In the Shadow of a Diva” (on BlackBoard)

Richard Fung, “Looking for My Penis” (on BlackBoard)

Apr 17 Religion and Asian American Identity (I)

Reading: “Part VI, Keeping the Faith” (from The Reader)

Apr 19 Religion and Asian American Identity (II)

Video: “Buddha and Blue Collar”

Apr 24 Art and Activism in Asian America (I)

Reading: “Chapter 5, Ideological Racism and Cultural Resistance,” Asian American Women and Men

Video: “Between the lines”
Apr 26 Art and Activism in Asian America (II)

Reading: “Part XII, Visual Culture” (from The Reader)

May 1 Complexity of Asian American Identity (I)

Reading: “Part XI, The Complexity of Ethnic Identity,” (from The Reader)

Liu, “Blood Vows,” The Accidental Asian
May 3 Complexity of Asian American Identity (II)

Video: TBA

May 8 The New Asian America (I)

Reading: “Chapter 6, Beyond Dualism,” Asian American Women and Men

Liu, “Fear of a Yellow Planet,” The Accidental Asian

Presentation of Final Paper:

May 10 The New Asian America (II)

Reading: Aihwa Ong, “Asian Immigrants as the New Westerners” (on BlackBoard)

“Part XIII, Mapping the Terrain” (from The Reader)

Presentation of Final Paper:

Week 15 Final Exam Week Final Paper Due by Wednesday, May 17, 11am.

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