SCHC 398: Asian American Culture in the Twenty-First Century
Professor Seulghee Lee
Fall 2023: Tuesday & Thursday, 2:50–4:05
Spring 2023: Tuesday & Thursday, 11:40–12:55
The pandemic era of 2020–2023 has brought into relief the paradoxical visibility of Asian Americans as victims of racist violence during a concurrent zeitgeist of unprecedented cultural representation. The latter boom indexes not only the slightly longer twenty-first century phenomenon of mainstream visibility, shaping the legibility of a distinctive Asian American culture, but also the intramural space for resource and resilience amidst the current era of anti-Asian hatred. This course will examine this century’s variety of representations made by Asian Americans, with a particular focus on the tensions between contemporary cultural production and anti-Asian racism. We will pose large, intractable questions in cultural theory regarding transnationalism, digital algorithms, model-minoritization, cultural appropriation, people-of-color solidarity, and psychic and physical violence, in addition to our querying the intersection of gender, sexuality, class, and geography in Asian American identity-formation. Ultimately, we will emphasize the triumph of Asian American social life in the contemporary era by asking ourselves how a coherent, prevailing “we” has come into view despite anti-Asian cultural and political conditions. Items covered may include Asian American presence on YouTube and TikTok, as well as in antiracist activism, Hip-hop, fashion, food, film, and electoral politics. TV and film we may sample include Fresh Off the Boat (2015–2020), Crazy Rich Asians (2018), Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens (2020-), Minari (2021), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021), and Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022); cultural phenomena we may discuss include 88 Rising, #StopAsianHate, #VeryAsian, Linsanity, Yang 2020, and Rise: A Pop History of Asian America from the Nineties to Now (2022). We may also periodically host Asian American speakers from music, film, food culture, journalism, and politics.