Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
ENG 244
Course Title:
Introduction to Asian-American Literature
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Studies writings in English by American writers of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino, Pacific Islander, and other Asian ancestry. Considers the writings in their historical, cultural, political, and social contexts. Emphasizes development of attitudes, values, and identities. Prerequisites: WR 115 and RD 115 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course, students should be able to:

1. Recognize distinguishing characteristics of the various Asian-American literatures and relate the writings to their historical, cultural, and political contexts.
2. Recognize the tensions in the writings between assimilationist attitudes and separatist attitudes, and between individual and representative presentations of
Asian-American life.
3. Explain how culturally based assumptions influence perceptions and behaviors in the writings, with particular attention to the function of stereotyped caricatures.
4. Recognize the role of gender differences in writings produced by male Asian-American writers and by women Asian-American writers.
5. Trace the incorporation of Asian folktales, stories, parables, proverbs, and other old-world literary material into Asian-American literatures.
6. Recognize the role of audience, or intended readership, in the presentation of Asian-American life, and the assumptions about cultural differences the writers are

Course Activities and Design

Class meeting time consists of lecture, group discussion, and various other activities€”small group discussion, in-class writings, and perhaps some guest speakers and viewing and listening to videotape and audio recordings.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Instructors vary on methods of assessment, but generally instructors employ some combination of quizzes, exams, essays, and reading notebooks. Students who miss more than a week's worth of class may not receive an A; those who miss two weeks' worth of class may not pass the course. The final grade is generally based upon the quality and extent of students' understanding of the course readings and discussions, as demonstrated in writings, discussion in class, and conferences.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Texts may be designated by the instructor based on the objectives outlined in this course content and outcomes guide. The reading list should attempt to represent the wide range of Asian American cultures producing English language literature in America. The following items are intended as descriptions of instructors' choices of texts in the past as an aid to choosing texts in the future. This is not intended as a prescribed or recommended list of texts. A good, extensive bibliography of anthologies and primary texts may be found in King-Kok Cheung€™s An Interethnic Companion to Asian American Literature, listed below. Some of the many possibilities:

1. Anthologies

Chan, Jeffery Paul, et al., eds.  The Big Aiiieeeee!: An Anthology of Chinese American and Japanese American Literature.

Hagedorn, Jessica, ed. Charlie Chan is Dead:  An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Fiction.

Hongo, Garrett, ed.  The Open Boat: Poems from Asian America.

Lai, Him Mark, Genny Lim, and Judy Yung, eds.  Island:  Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island 1910-1940.

Lim, Shirley Geok-lin, and Mayumi Tsutakawa, eds.  The Forbidden Stitch:  An Asian American Women€™s Anthology. 

Wong, Shawn, ed.  Asian American Literature:  A Brief Introduction and Anthology.

2. Works by Individual Authors

Bulosan, Carlos. America Is in the Heart: A Personal History.

Chin, Frank.  Donald Duk.

Chu, Louis.  Eat a Bowl of Tea.

Hongo, Garrett.  Volcano:  A Memoir of Hawai€™i.

Houston, Jeanne Wakatsuki, and James Houston.  Farewell to Manzanar. 

Jen, Gish.  Typical American.

Kingston, Maxine Hong.  The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts.

Kogawa, Joy.  Obasan.

Lee, Chang-Rae.  Native Speaker.

Mori, Toshio.  Yokohama, California.

Mukherjee, Bharati. The Middleman and Other Stories.

Nguyen, Ngoc Ngan.  The Will of Heaven.

Okada, John.  No-No Boy.

Tan, Amy.  The Joy Luck Club.

Tyau, Kathleen. A Little Too Much Is Enough.

Wong, Jade.  Fifth Chinese Daughter.

Yamamoto, Hisaye.  Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories.

3. Background Readings

Baker, Houston A., Jr., ed.  Three American Literatures.

Cheung, King-Kok, ed.  An Interethnic Companion to Asian American Literature.

Kim, Elaine.  Asian American Literature:  An Introduction to the Writings and Their Social Context.

Lim, Shirley Geok-lin, and Amy Ling, eds.  Reading the Literatures of Asian America.

Ruoff, A. LaVonne Brown, and Jerry W. Ward, Jr. Redefining American Literary History.

Wong, Sau-ling Cynthia.  Reading Asian American Literature:  From Necessity to Extravagance.

Instructors new to the course should contact the campus literature chair, Comp/Lit SAC chair, faculty department chair, or administrative support person for further information. Other faculty members who have taught the course are also valuable sources of information.