Current Courses

Spring 2017


Asian Am 218/AfAm 218


Social and behavioral sciences; Historical Studies; Interdisciplinary distribution requirement


Why do Asian Americans and African Americans seem to be incommensurably different and conflicting groups? Where can we find evidence of past solidarity and commonality? This course offers an examination of the construction Asian and Black peoples in the U.S. Topics include: the historical and overlapping racialization and sexualization of Blacks and Asians; slavery and early immigration legislation; international “Afro-Asian” connections; new racial and economic dynamics that differentially locate Blacks and Asians in the post-WWII economy; the 1965 Immigration Act; the devastating effect of 1970s American deindustrialization leading to the “model minority” and “underclass” myths; the ideologies that emerged from social movements of the 60’s and 70’s; how the Vietnam War reconceptualized race, identity, and inter-minority relations beyond Black and White.



Asian Am 220-0-1/History 220-0-22

PROF. JUSTIN TSE | MW 12:30 - 1:50 PM

Historical Studies distribution requirement


This course will be a survey of the various ideologies, movements, and communities that make up what is called ‘Chinese America.’ The course will utilize a wide range of texts, including fictional, historiographical, and sociological materials. These texts will demonstrate the diverse, if not divisive, ‘Chinese America’ that exists, and how ‘Chinese America’ is still used as a coherent term of political mobilization.



Asian Am 220-0-2/History 220-0-24

PROF. JUSTIN TSE | MW 9:30 - 10:50 AM

Historical Studies distribution requirement


Oftentimes, ‘Asian America’ is taken as a demographic category to describe everyone in America of ‘Asian descent.’ However, this course begins with the premise that ‘Asian America’ is founded and sustained by ‘social movements’: mobilizations of people who have become conscious of an issue that affects them, and motivate them to do something collectively about it. The texts in this course will give examples of Asian Americans engaging in the work of social movements, and this course tasks the students to evaluate whether these movements have been effective. Featured texts will include Gary Okihiro’s Third World Studies and Brazilian educator Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed.



Asian Am 214/History 214


Historical Studies distribution requirement


Twice since 9/11, politicians have referred to the World War II imprisonment of Japanese Americans as a possible precedent for policies toward Muslims. Yet many Americans remain ignorant about this important and understudied episode in U.S. history. This course examines events leading up to the mass imprisonment of a group of people based on race, the role played by wartime emergency language, the experiences of Japanese Americans, and the consequences of this wartime policy. It focuses on the intersections between race, gender, nation, and law.



Asian Am 275

PROF. DOUGLAS ISHII | MW 11:00 AM - 12:20 PM

Literature and Fine Arts distribution requirement


Asian North Americans are a diverse people with a strange relationship to land: they have been denied citizenship and have been chased from their homes, they have been called “aliens” and thought of as “perpetual foreigners”, they have experienced and maybe perpetrated multiple colonizations of the lands they inhabit, and they are seen as technologically inclined and even robotic.  These racialized experiences of place and displacement have been theorized in Asian North American literature and other forms of storytelling.  This course will focus on these stories to ask: How have Asian North Americans inhabited the earth through their difference?  With topics ranging from citizenship, solidarity, food and resource use, globalization, environmental justice, and the future, these stories will challenge us to think globally as our planet may very well be moving closer to extinction.



Asian Am 276


Literature and Fine Arts distribution requirement


The recent popularity of international forms like Hallyu and new artists like Mitski make it seem like Asians are newcomers to the U.S. music scene. People usually seem far more familiar with the Orientalist tropes and cultural appropriation of some U.S. popular music, but in this course, we will examine the rich tradition that Asian American musicians have created across the 20th- and 21st-centuries as a form of expression, representation, and political critique.  From the transformation of “traditional” folk songs, to the soundtracks of past and current Asian American activisms, to the rise of the Asian American YouTube generation, this class will examine the racial, cultural, and genre-based contexts that shape how Asian Americans make themselves heard through an intersectional lens.



Asian Am 360/Gender 341 


Social and behavioral sciences distribution requirement.


This course is situated at the intersection of theoretical, cultural, medical, and commercial online discourses concerning the burgeoning GCS-related surgeries (Gender Confirmation Surgery) presented online and conducted in Bangkok, Thailand. Using “Trans” theories: transgender, transnational, translation, spatio/temporal, this class discusses the intersections, dialogues, refusals, and adaptions when thinking about medical travel to Thailand. We will examine Thai cultural/historical conceptions of sex and gender, debates concerning bodies and diagnoses, and changes in presentations of sex/gender related surgeries offered online. Comparative cultural studies, medical discourses, and an archive of web images offering SRS surgeries to Thailand produced by Thais for western clientele will serve as axes for investigating this topic.


Asian Am 376/MENA 390-6-20


Literature and Fine Arts distribution requirement


This course focuses on Arab American film, visual art, literature, and performance as a way to examine various political, ideological, and social issues of concern to Arab American communities. The course will begin with a brief overview of how Arab culture has been represented in the US and then move on to examine Arab American arts and cinema as forms of self-representation. At the heart of the course will be an interrogation of the relationship between representation and power. Readings in postcolonial theory, women of color feminist theory, and queer of color critique will provide analytical lenses through which to explore the aesthetic and political aspects of Arab American arts and cinema.



Asian Am 394

PROF. TATSU AOKI | T 6:00 - 8:50 PM


This course will examine the cross-cultural work of Asian American artists with a focus on regional arts and culture, the influence of nationally and internationally known artists, and historical analyses of Asian American music and visual arts. For this class, we will look at the phenomenal development of new and traditional music, performing arts, and visual arts in Chicago and the Bay Area in the last 20 years. This research-based class also investigates many influential cyber arts and/or non-arts movement such as Youtube submissions, internet-based performing activities and web page presentations. Themes that will be addressed are the forming of new cultural and artistic communities and their impact on the mainstream culture, collaboration between communities and cultures on the local and transnational levels, and community and economic development issues in the arts and society.



Winter 2017



Asian Am 203/MENA 290


Social and behavioral sciences distribution requirement


Throughout three sections—1) Immigration & Racial Formation, 2) Representation and 3) Cultural Politics—this class offers an introduction to the formation of Arab-American cultural identity and the social and political issues at the heart of the Arab-American community. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, we will read a variety of texts (including history, anthropology, literature, and cultural studies) to explore the following questions: What are the historical circumstances that have shaped Arab immigration to the U.S.? How has U.S. foreign policy impacted Arab-American histories and experiences? Where do Arab-Americans "fit" within the U.S.' racial classification system? How do the intersections of multiple identities and backgrounds inform Arab-American communities, cultural politics, and activism? What is anti-Arab racism, where does it stem from, and how does it manifest in daily life?



Asian Am 214/History 214

PROF. JUSTIN TSE | MW 11:00 AM - 12:20 PM

Historical Studies distribution requirement


“Asian America” is a composite of ethnic communities formed by migration between the regions of “Asia” and the "Americas." But how did these disparate groups came to become known as “Asian America”? In this course, we will explore the histories of various Asian American communities (e.g. Chinese American, Japanese American, Korean American, Filipina/o American, Indian American, Native Hawai’ian communities). Our readings will begin with the pre-World War II Asian American experiences of exclusion and community establishment. We will then consider how it is that these different communities became known as an Asian American “community,” especially through the experience of the Second World War. Finally, we will read stories of post-1960s migrations and the ideological and material divisions that have emerged in Asian America.



Asian Am 247


Literature and Fine Arts distribution requirement


In this course, using theoretical frameworks developed in the study of popular culture and the field of Ethnic Studies, we will look into the complexities, compromises, and negotiations that go into Asian Americans representing themselves and being represented through U.S. mass culture and locally based grassroots cultural production.  We will explore primary “texts” in Asian American popular cultures, and pair them with the theoretical analyses of Asian American popular culture studies, thinking about race at the intersection of class, gender, sexuality, and citizenship.  If there is an Asian American popular culture, what is it?  Who is engaging in it?  Who is producing it and who is consuming it? And how does this shape our understanding of Asian American communities?



Asian Am 320/History 393

PROF. JI-YEON YUH | TU 3:30 - 6:20 PM

Historical Studies distribution requirement


Vietnamese refugees and Korean immigrants came to the United States with experiences of war that are passed to younger generations as both silence and memory. How can we understand and represent the experiences of both the older and younger generations? How do their experiences transform the history of Asian Americans as well as the broader history of the United States? What does war mean in the American experience? This research seminar focuses on Vietnamese American and Korean American communities in the Chicago area in an attempt to answer these and other questions through focused oral history research and public presentations.



Asian Am 350/Religion 369

PROF. JUSTIN TSE | MW 2:00-3:20 PM

Ethics & Values, Interdisciplinary, and Social Behavioral sciences distribution requirements


If there’s anything for which Asian Americans are usually exoticized and Orientalized, it’s usually their traditions of religion and spirituality. What is strange, though, is that Asian American religions are seldom discussed in Asian American studies. In this course, we will try to use the topic of religion to think through Asian American studies. In the first part of the course, we will examine the way that religion has been framed in American public spheres in relation to Asia and discuss ways that Asian Americans have performed religion to disrupt this orientalizing framework, especially in literature, film, and art. In the second part of the course, we will look more closely at the lived religious practices of Asian Americans and their communities; this will include field trips to sites in Chicago and Evanston. Assignments will include weekly reading reflections, a novel/film/artistic review, and a community immersion project. This course should be of interest to students in Asian American studies, American and contemporary religions, and Global Asias.



Asian Am 380/Theatre 365


Literature and Fine Arts distribution requirement


"Asian/Black Connections in U.S. Theatre and Performance" examines performances by and about Asian Americans and African Americans in order to understand an interconnected history of race and racism in the United States from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century.  We will explore the production and contestation of racialized meanings—how bodies are marked and redefined as “Asian,” “Oriental,” “Black,” “Other,” “Asian American,” and “African American”—through performances.  In other words, we study the construction of race through performances on stage and in everyday life.  The course covers a range of performances or embodied practices, including theatre, museum and fair displays, exhibitions, minstrelsy, musicals, cabaret performances, protests, martial arts, and hip hop.  We will also look at the mutual influence of and relationships between Asian American and African American performers.        Our investigations will be guided by these inquiries: How do theatre and performances in general illuminate how bodies acquire cultural meaning?  How are bodies racialized through performance?  What does it mean for a body to be marked “Asian” or “Black”?  How do negotiations of racialization impact subjects’ experiences of identity, place, community, and belonging?  How can performances offer the possibilities for resistance and critique?  What kinds of political and cultural connections are shared by Asian Americans and African Americans?  The course begins in the nineteenth century with a comparative study of embodied negotiations of race and racism in public exhibits of Asian and black bodies, and in blackface and yellowface minstrel performances.  The course then examines the influence of ideas about Asia and Asians on African American performances and African American influences on Asian American performances.  We then turn to cross-racial alliances and influences in activism and hip hop in the United States and in Asia.  The course concludes by exploring contemporary theatrical representations of Asian/Black relationships.  In addition to dramatic texts, we will read key works in Asian American and African American history and cultural studies, along with readings in critical race theory and performance theory.



Asian Am 394

PROF. TATSU AOKI | TU 6:00-8:50 PM


This course looks at America's perceptions of Asians through their portrayal in American mainstream media in contrast to those made in Asia by Asian filmmakers. It is a survey and discussion oriented case studies of representation of Asian and Asian American icons. By comparing films made by Asians and those produced by the American mainstream, major differences in their perspectives and approaches are found. In doing this, the class investigates issues of representation and misrepresentation in mass culture stereotypes of Asians to show how they have been rooted in confusions surrounding cultural differences between Asians and Asian Americans. The course presents Hollywood films; mainstream Asian films, independent works from as well as other visual media such as Youtube submissions and commercial application both the Asian and Asian American communities.



Fall 2016



Asian Am 203



As the 2016 federal elections arrive on our doorstep, much of the popular commentary has revolved around “conservatism,” especially the phenomenon of racial minorities embracing social, economic, and political forms of conservative ideology. But what is “conservatism,” and what are conservatives, especially those who are people of color, trying to conserve? In this course, we will explore the ideological content of various strains of American conservatisms as a way of exploring what ideology itself is and how it operates in communities of color. To do this, we will read texts in the “conservative tradition,” compare them to texts and events produced by minority conservatives, and discuss their relationship with the racial justice tradition of ethnic studies, especially (but not limited to) Asian American studies. In the first part of the course, we will read Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind in relation to student activist movements since the 1960s, the communities that they created, and the minority conservatives who challenged them. In the second half, we will read Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the French Revolution to compare “the conservative tradition” with contemporary articulations of minority conservatism. We will also spend some time on the stereotype of the “model minority,” which is why this course will be of special interest to those in Asian American studies. This course should also appeal to students in ethnic studies more broadly, as well as those interested in political philosophy.




Asian Am 210/American St 310

PROF. DOUGLAS ISHII | MW 11:00 AM – 12:20 PM


Asian American Studies, as a part of Ethnic Studies, emerged from the interracial social movements and global solidarities of the 1960s and 1970s, and sought to value the histories, experiences, communities, and people who had been excluded from classrooms and curriculum.  In this course, we will focus on the experiences of Asian and Asian American people from the 19th to the 21st centuries through an interdisciplinary lens.  Our week-to-week explorations will ask key questions that characterize Asian American scholarship and activism, paying attention to intersections of identity and difference, as well as interracial and intraracial conflict and cooperation.  What can we learn about race, rights, national metanarrative, agency, imperialism, capital, and diversity by centralizing Asian Americans?





Asian Am 360/Gender St 382


Social and behavioral sciences distribution requirement


Lotus Blossoms, Yellow Fever, Asian Geeks: U.S. popular culture is filled with gendered images of Asian Americans that speak not only about race, but sex.  As “model minorities” and “forever foreigners,” Asian and Asian American people are thought to have regressive views on gender roles and sexual norms and identities; these preconceptions make Asian American feminisms and LGBTQ organizing incomprehensible to many.  Yet, many Asian Americans may have experienced gendered, sexual, or homophobic violence in their own lives.  We will begin this course by reading through the rich writings of Asian American feminism for a historical and theoretical basis.  Then, through multidisciplinary scholarship and cultural texts about Asian American genders and sexualities, we will discuss issues including, but not limited to, masculinities, femininities, feminisms, LGBTQ identities in Asian America, interracial and intraracial relationships, dating and marriage, queer of color critique, and families.  We will end the course by conducting original interdisciplinary research on social and cultural questions at the intersection of race, gender, and sexuality.



Asian Am 303/Anthro 390


Social and behavioral sciences distribution requirement


What is Asian American advertising, how can we understand cultural production and consumption practices among Asian Americans? This course will examine ethnographic approaches to advertising, fashion, food, and expressive culture among Asian communities in the United States. The first portion of the class will examine the creative and production processes involved in creating ads for specific Asian ethnic groups, as well as other cultural production in Asian American industries, including fashion. The second will look in depth at various studies of consumption that document the ways in which Asian Americans engage with popular culture and commodities, including food and art. The course will also draw relevant connections between advertising and consumption in the US with China, India, Japan, and other Asian nation-states. The course will be grounded in anthropological perspectives of advertising and cultural production as well as theories of consumption, and consider the effects of these on meanings of ethnicity, race, gender, class, nation, and diaspora. 



Asian Am 370/History 300

PROF. JI-YEON YUH | MW 9:30–10:50 AM


The 20th century has been marked by upheaval and consequent migration for the people of the Korean peninsula. As a result of these migrations, substantial communities of ethnic Koreans exist in Central Asia, China, Japan, the United States and Canada, South America and Europe. How and why did Koreans go to these places? What kinds of communities and identities did they construct? How do these Koreans fit into the history of Korea, particularly in the context of a country divided into two opposing states? How do they fit into the history of their host countries? By examining the histories of ethnic Koreans outside the Korean peninsula, we will examine issues of migration, diaspora, race relations, and colonialism. We will also take a fresh look at modern Korean history by examining how these “overseas Koreans” view and relate to the history and ongoing politics of their divided homeland.



Spring 2016


Asian Am 214/Hist 214

Introduction to Asian American History

Laura Fugikawa

MW 2:00 - 3:20 p.m.

Asian American History is American History. This course is an introductory survey of historical experiences of Asian immigrants and Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. What roles do colonization, global politics and American Expansionism play in Asian and Pacific Islanders' experiences of immigration to the U.S.? How did Asian Americans wield political influence and circumscribe exclusionary and racist policies to build their lives in America? How does looking at Asian American history change the way we understand American history?

Historical Studies Distro


Asian Am 251/Af Am 251

The Mixed Race Experience

Nitasha Sharma

TuTh 11:00 a.m. - 12:20 p.m.

Growing numbers of interracial marriages and children of mixed racial descent have contributed to the increasing diversity of 21st century America. In this course, we will evaluate the experiences of self-identified multiracials. This class will explore the interracial and inter-ethnic marriage trends in various Asian communities in the U.S. Additionally, we will compare the experiences of multiracials representing a range of backgrounds, including those of Asian/White and Asian/Black ancestry as well as Asian/Black heritage. Some of the specific topics that will be covered in this course include: racial and ethnic community membership and belonging; passing; the dynamics of interracial relationships; identity, authenticity, and choice; and the gender identities of the mixed race individuals.

Social and Behavioral Sciences Distro


Asian Am 275/Eng 275

Introduction to Asian American Literature

Andrew Leong

TuTh 3:30 - 4:50 p.m.

This course is an introduction to foundational works of 20th century Asian American literature. We will begin with the revolutionary autobiographies of anarchist Dhan Gopal Mukerji and labor organizer Carlos Bulosan, continue with John Okada's hard-hitting novel No-No Boy, and conclude with the genre-defying experiments of Maxine Hong Kingston and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. If you are interested in the political power and legacies, daring creative experiments, or the multi-generational history of Asian American writing, this is the course for you.

Literature and Fine Arts Distro


Asian Am 310/Af Am 310

Contemporary Asian and Black Relations

Nitasha Sharma

TuTh 2:00 - 3:20 p.m.

This course explores the relations between Asian American and Black people in the contemporary U.S. Picking up where Asian and Black Historical Relations in the U.S. (Asam/Afam 218) left off (not a pre-req), this course covers the historical racialization of these two groups. In the first meeting of each week, we analyze and discuss the set of readings and films. The second meeting each week is structured around a student-led debate about the topic of the week. These include: the differential and overlapping racialization and sexualization of Blacks and Asians; Black and Asian labor in the U.S.; reparations; affirmative action; the 1992 L.A. riots; martial arts and Bruce Lee in African American communities; Asian/Black intermarriage; multiracial Blasians; and Asian Americans in hip hop.

Ethics and Values Distro


Asian Am 320/HIST 393-0-28

Memories of War

Ji-Yeon Yuh

MW 11:00 a.m. - 12:20 p.m.

Vietnamese refugees and Korean immigrants came to the U.S. with experiences of war that are passed to younger generations as both silence and memory. How can we understand and represent the experiences of both the older and younger generations? How do their experiences transform the history of Asian Americans as well as the broader history of the U.S.? What does war mean in the American experience? This research seminar focuses on Vietnamese American and Korean American communities in the Chicago area in an attempt to answer these and other questions through focused oral history research and public presentations.

Historical Studies Distro


Asian Am 370/Soc 376

Studies in Diaspora: S.E. Asian American Experience

Jennifer Huynh

TuTh 3:30 - 4:50 p.m.

The diversity of the Asian American experience includes the outpouring of refugees who arrived to the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s while fleeing war, revolution, and exile. How do Cambodians, Vietnamese, and Laotians fit the model minority myth? Is there inter-generational transfer of trauma and war to the second generation? This course focuses on the experiences of Vietnamese, Khmer, Lao, Hmong and ethnic Chinese from Southeast Asia. We will examine political and economic factors for their exodus and how they reconstruct their identities, families, and communities in the U.S. We will look at issues such as refugee camp experiences, education, occupational options, and homeland relations.

Social and Behavioral Sciences Distro


Asian Am 392/Eng 385/Comp Lit 375

Manga & the Graphic Novel

Andrew Leong

TuTh 11:00 a.m. - 12:20 p.m.

In this seminar, students will develop their own research projects on manga, comics, or graphic novels while working together through a reading list of Jewish, Japanese, and American graphic narratives. Although the course readings will focus primarily on documentary, historical, and realist works, students are encouraged to pursue interests in other genres and styles. We will also examine the psychological and physical displacements wrought by Japanese and Jewish immigration to the U.S., Japanese American internment, and the Holocaust.


Asian Am 394

Asian American Arts in Practice

Tatsu Aoki

Tu 6:00 - 8:50 p.m.

Students will examine the cross cultural work of Asian American artists through a survey and research-based class structure, focusing mainly on the development of Asian American visual and performing arts in the last 10 years, both nationally and locally with Chicago area artists. Materials include YouTube videos, internet-based performances and other online pieces. We will study the formation of cultural and artistic communities and their impact on the mainstream culture, as well as study the collaboration between these communities and cultures on local and transnational levels.




Upcoming Event

Hidden Histories: Short films on Japanese American Incarceration During WWII
May 30, 20176:30 PM - 8:30 PM