EN357: Coming-of-Age in Asian America

Instructor:       Jennifer Ho

Seminar:          Tuesdays 1-3:50pm, Clapp 203

Office:             Skinner 307

Phone:             358-2630

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

Office Hours:  Tuesdays 11-1pm—meet in Skinner 307, Wednesdays 4-5pm—meet in the Stimson Room, 6th floor of the library, and by appointment

This seminar focuses on Asian American coming-of-age novels by addressing questions of identity formation. Themes pertinent to our discussion include the influences of family, class, sexuality, violence, and history in the maturation process of Asian American protagonists. We will also question definitions of Asian American ethnic identity, the phrase “coming-of-age,” and the concept of “Asian America.” 

Required Texts:

Contours of the HeartEds. Sunaina Maira and Rajini Srikanth

Mona in the Promised Land—Gish Jen

Comfort Woman—Nora Okja Keller

All I Asking for Is My Body—Milton Murayama

Eating Chinese Food Naked—Mei Ng

Monkey Bridge—Lan Cao

The English Patient—Michael Ondaatje

All texts are available for purchase through Odyssey Books.

Course Requirements:

Final grades will be determined as follows:

Attendance and Participation 10%

Response Papers (8), quizzes, and other assignments 

Oral Presentation w/handout 15%
Midterm Paper 25%
Final Research Paper 40%


January 30      Introduction

February 6      Theory

Introduction from The Voyage In: Fictions of Female Development,
Introduction from Reflection and Action: Essays on the Bildungsroman, and the
Introduction from Words Matter: Conversations with Asian American Writers.
(all essays can be found on electronic reserve)

                        Due:  Letter of Introduction

February 13    Short Stories

“I Want to Give you Devotion”— Ameena Meer (92-106)
“Jumbee Curse”— Marina Budhos (140-157)
“Divided Consciousness Amidst a New Orientalism: South Asian American Identity
 Formation on Campus”— Sucheta J. Doshi (201-213)  [essay]
“Lahore in the Sky”— Sunaina Maira (253-261)
“More Precious Than These Hands”— Shivani Manghnani (446-460)
from Contours of the Heart, Eds. Sunaina Maira and Rajini Srikanth           

February 20    Mona in the Promised Land—Gish Jen

February 27    *FILM—AKA Don Bonus

                        “August 1968”— Peter Bacho   (electronic reserve)

                        “Pat and Pan”— Sui Sin Far (electronic reserve)

March 3          Comfort Woman—Nora Okja Keller

March 10        All I Asking for Is My Body—Milton Murayama

March 20        SPRING BREAK

March 27        Eating Chinese Food Naked--Mei Ng

                        Due:  Midterm Paper

April 3            FILM--The Wedding Banquet

                        “Seventeen Syllables”— Hisaye Yamamoto  (electronic reserve)

                        “Maiden Voyage: Excursion into Sexuality and Identity Politics in Asian

                        America” — Dana Y. Takagi (electronic reserve)

                        Due: APA Quiz

April 10          Monkey Bridge--Lan Cao

April 17          FILM—Mississippi Masala

                        “Visualizing Three Continents: An Interview with Filmmaker Mira Nair” — Sunaina Maira and Rajini Srikanth (125-139)             

“Moments of Identity in Film” — Vakirathi Mani (174-187) from Contours of the Heart
April 18          Wednesday, 8:00pm—Screening of Old Man River with lecture/discussion by filmmaker Cynthia Fujikawa (attendance mandatory)          

April 24          FILM--Old Man River (continue discussion)

                        “In Search of Hiroshi” — Gene Oishi (electronic reserve)

                        “Fictive Fragments of a Father and Son” —David Mura (electronic reserve)

                        Due:  Research paper abstracts

May 1             The English Patient—Michael Ondaatje

May 8             End of Semester Wrap Up—Exchange abstracts and share final projects


*Unless otherwise noted, all film screenings will take place in-class.