EN 274: Introduction to Contemporary Asian American Literature, Fall 2001 –


Instructor:       Jennifer Ho

Class:              Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:00-12:15pm, Clapp Lab 206

Office:             Shattuck 210

Phone:             358-2103

E-mail:             jho@mtholyoke.edu  (this is my preferred method of communication)

Office Hours:  Wednesdays 10-11am—meet in Shattuck 210, Wednesdays 4-5pm—meet in the Stimson Room, 6th floor of the library,and by appointment

This course offers an introduction to contemporary Asian American literature in a variety of genres such as short stories, novels, essays, poetry, and drama. With the 1989 publication of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, Asian American literature has flourished at an exponential rate. And even before Tan’s wildly successful publishing phenomenon, in the mid 1970s, Maxine Hong Kingston and Frank Chin pioneered the wave of current Asian American literature. Asian American writers have won the Pulitzer prize, been featured in an anthology of the best writing of the century, and enjoy an unprecedented popularity among readers in the U.S. and abroad. Although this course can only provide a cursory introduction to this growing field, my hope is that students will be inspired to continue reading Asian American literature on their own. 

Required Texts:

Contours of the Heart, Eds. Sunaina Maira and Rajini Srikanth

Making More Waves, Ed. Elaine Kim

Woman Warrior – Maxine Hong Kingston

Donald Duk – Frank Chin

Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers – Lois Ann Yamanaka

The Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri

Fish Head Soup and Other Plays – Philip Kan Gotanda

All texts are available for purchase through The Odyssey Bookshop.


Course Requirements

Final grades will be determined as follows:

Attendance, Participation, Assignments  15%
Student Teaching w/handout  15%
Literature/Performance Review  5%
Paper 1 (3-4 pages)   15%
Paper 2  (6-8 pages)  20%
Final Exam  30%


Week 1

Mon—Sept. 10           Introduction:  What is Contemporary Asian American Literature?

Wed—Sept. 12           The Woman Warrior – Kingston (1-16)

                                    Due: Introductory Letter

Week 2

Wed—Sept. 19           The Woman Warrior – Kingston (161-209)

                                    Due:  Group Topics (genre)

Week 3

Mon—Sept. 24           “Oh Come All Ye Writers of the Real and the Fake” – Chin (reserve)

Wed – Sept. 26           Donald Duk – Chin, Ch. 1-10 (1-78)

Week 4

Mon – Oct. 1              Donald Duk – Chin, Ch. 11-13 (79-106)

Wed – Oct. 3               Donald Duk – Chin, Ch. 14 – Epilog  (107-172)

Mon – Oct. 8              NO CLASS—Founder’s Day

Wed – Oct. 10             Short Stories from Contours of the Heart – Maira and Srikanth

                                    Due: Specific texts for student teaching projects

Week 6

Mon – Oct. 15                  The Wash – Gotanda

                                    Due: Paper #1—Character analysis

                                    7pm – screening [location TBA] of The Wash with discussion to follow

Wed – Oct. 17             Poetry from Contours and Making More Waves

                                    Guest Lecturers: Sejal Shah & I Was Born with Two Tongues

Week 7

Week 8

Mon – Oct. 29                  Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers – Yamanaka, Part II (84-180)

                                    Due: APA Quiz

Week 9

Mon – Nov. 5             Student Teaching Projects

Wed – Nov. 7              Student Teaching Projects

Week 10

Mon – Nov. 12           Student Teaching Projects

Wed – Nov. 14            Student Teaching Projects

Week 11

Mon – Nov. 19           Short Stories from Contours and Making More Waves

Wed – Nov. 21            NO CLASS – Thanksgiving Break

Week 12

Mon – Nov. 26           Student Teaching Projects

Wed – Nov. 28            Student Teaching Projects

Week 13

Mon – Dec. 3              The Interpreter of Maladies – Lahiri  (1-69)

                                    Due: Paper #2—Comparison Paper

Wed – Dec. 5              The Interpreter of Maladies – Lahiri  (70-135)

Week 14

Mon – Dec. 10                  The Interpreter of Maladies – Lahiri   (136-198)

Wed – Dec. 12            Last Day Wrap Up/Mock Practice Exam

                                    Last day to hand in Literature/Performance Reviews

Final Exam:  TBA