Brown University offers a range of interdisciplinary courses in Asian American Studies and related coursework. Although there is no course listing of "Asian American Studies,"  various courses are offered throughout different departments to constitute a comprehensive overview of Asian American Studies. To see previous years' course listings, please click here

Spring 2013 Asian American Courses

AMST0191M The Vietnam War and Visual Culture 
Instructor: Crystal Ngo 
This course examines how our understanding of one of the most mediated armed conflicts of the twentieth century has changed. Why has "Vietnam" become a metaphor for imperial wars and how has it figured in cultural production within and beyond the United States? Considering photographs, films, and personal narratives beginning during the war and continuing into the present, we recognize the fictive and flexible nature of history and how even the worst experiences are made available for collective memory and mass consumption. The course works to decenter the United States and takes into account long-range ramifications and multiple voices. Enrollment limited to 17 first year students and sophomores. WRIT

AMST0191N Beyond Entrepreneurs, Adoptees, and G.I. Wives: Korean American Experiences 
Instructor: Jin Suk Bae 
What does it mean to be Korean American? This course explores the historical and contemporary experiences of people of Korean descent in the United States. In the broader context of U.S.-Korean/Asian relations and through the lenses of race, ethnicity, class, and gender, this course will examine the connections and differences in the lives of diverse Korean populations. The composition of these populations ranges from adoptees, military wives, and entrepreneurs to secondary migrants from Latin America. Throughout the semester, students will be familiarized with the central themes in immigration and ethnic studies such as diaspora, transnationalism, racial formation, and community formation. Enrollment limited to 17 first years and sophomores.

AMST1904J The Asian American Movement: Communities, Politics and Culture 
Instructor: Robert G. Lee 
 In 1969 students at S.F. State College invented a new social category; they called it Asian America. This seminar begins with an examination the Asian American Movement, its origins and aspirations, its ideological cross currents, its failures and enduring legacies. But the central question we will ask is, what relevance does the Asian American Movement have for struggles for social justice today? Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.

ENGL2760Y American Orientalism and Asian American Literary Criticism
Instructor: Daniel Kim
We examine critical studies of American Orientalism, influential works of Asian Americanist cultural criticism, American Orientalist texts by white and black authors, and literary texts by Asian American authors. Critics, cultural historians and writers we read may include: Christina Klein, Vijay Prashad, Elaine Kim, Frank Chin, Lisa Lowe, W.E.B. DuBois, Susan Choi, Nam Le, Karen Tei Yamashita. Enrollment limited to 15 graduate students. 

ENGL0800I Global South Asia
Instructor: Madhumita Lahiri
This course provides an introduction to contemporary fiction by South Asia and its diaspora. We will read novels written in North America, the Caribbean, Australia, Africa, the United Kingdom, and of course South Asia, paying particular attention to issues of identity, ethnicity, and transnational circulation. Authors include Adiga, Hanif, Lahiri, Meeran, Mistry, Naipaul, Roy, Rushdie, Selvadurai, and Sinha. DVPS 

Spring 2013 Related Coursework

AMST0190X Gendered Mobility: Migrant Women Workers in a Globalized Economy
Instructor: Maria Cecilia Hwang 
Today's women workers migrate at a historically unprecedented rate. This class looks at Third World women who migrate for work in global cities. We examine their experiences through the intersectional lens of gender, race, class, and nationality. We also question the social, political, and economic forces that drive migration and draw women workers to specific destinations. Finally, we will look at the multiple inequalities these workers confront and the ways in which they negotiate and challenge them. Enrollment limited to 17 first year students and sophomores. WRIT

AMST1611Z The Century of Immigration
Instructor: Richard A. Meckel
Examines in depth the period of immigration that stretched from the 1820s through the 1920s and witnessed the migration of over 36 million Europeans, Asians, Canadians, and Latin Americans to the United States. Explores causal theories of migration and settlement, examines the role of family, religion, work, politics, cultural production, and entertainment in immigrant/ethnic communities, and traces the development and impact of federal immigration policy.

AMST1612W Rethinking Women's Bodies and Rights: Transnational Reproductive Politics
Instructor: Aiko Takeuchi
This course examines the issues and debates surrounding women's reproduction in the United States and beyond. It pays special attention to how knowledge and technology travel across national/cultural borders and how women's reproductive functions are deeply connected to international politics and events abroad. Topics include: birth control, eugenics, population control, abortion, prostitution, reproductive hazards, genetic counseling, new reproductive technologies, midwifery, breastfeeding, and menstruation. Students will analyze historical and contemporary materials concerning women's reproductive roles, as well as read scholarly studies on reproductive issues in various parts of the world.

COLT1420A The Tale of Genji and its Legacy
Instructor: Meera S. Viswanathan
The Tale of Genji (circa 1000 CE), authored by Murasaki Shikibu, a woman of the Heian court, has been canonized over the centuries as the greatest work of Japanese literature. No work in the Japanese tradition has exerted as much literary influence as this mammoth work of prose fiction detailing the private lives of Genji, the brilliant son of the emperor, those with whom he consorts, and his descendents. We will read Genji in its entirety, along with antecedent works, other texts of the period, works influenced by Murasaki's opus, other historical materials, and secondary commentary. There are no prerequisites for this course and it is open to all undergraduates.

COLT1421Q Word and Image: Ekphrasis, the Iconic Narrative, and the Graphic Novel
Instructor: Meera S. Viswanathan
An examination of the tradition of illustrated narratives from the pre-modern to the modern periods: the ancient Indian epic the Ramayana, the early eleventh-century Japanese Genji Monogatari, the medieval English Canterbury Tales, the late eighteenth century Marriage of Heaven and Hell, as well as the contemporary graphic novel Persepolis and examples of Japanese manga. Discussion will focus on the nature of iconography and symbolism; the historical privileging of text over image; the significance of parallel visual and verbal representation and its implications for culturally-specific theories of reading. Instructor permission required.

COLT1440A Storytelling in The Wire
Instructor: Peter K. Saval
The Wire has received attention from fields like sociology and urban studies, which tend to read the work as a fictionalization of their observations about cities. It has not received as much attention from departments of literature, although it should. In our course, traditional categories of literary study (including character, storytelling, fiction, and tragedy) will be wedded to the investigation of contemporary problems that emerge from the work (including class, race, neoliberalism, the disappearance of work, and the death and life of American cities).
EAST0180 Japan: Nature, Ritual, and the Arts
Instructor: Janine T. Sawada
This course is an introduction to Japanese culture and aesthetics as represented in pre-modern literature, drama, visual arts, tea practices, and martial arts. Recurring themes include Japanese attitudes toward the natural world; religious elements in traditional conceptions of beauty; and the function of ritual and mindfulness in artistic cultivation. The course is designed for students who have no previous exposure to Japanese studies at the college level; no prerequisites. Students who have completed EAST1410 may not register for this course (same course, different course ID).

EAST1950B Chinese Women, Gender and Feminism from Historical and Transnational Perspectives
Instructor: Lingzhen Wang
This seminar course is designed to critically re-evaluate (re)presentations of Chinese women, gender, and feminism in historical, literary, and academic discourses. It examines a diverse body of texts produced through different historical periods and in different geopolitical locations. It emphasizes gender as both a historical construct(s) among competing discourses and as a material process of individual embodiment and disembodiment. The goal of the course is to help advanced students understand Chinese history from a distinctly gendered perspective, to recognize women's roles in history and writing, and to develop a reflective, cross-cultural approach to gender, politics, and the self.

EAST1950G Market Economy, Popular Culture, and Mass Media in Contemporary China
Instructor: Lingzhen Wang
Course focuses on mainland Chinese cultural and media production since the mid 1980's, when China began transforming itself culturally and economically into a capitalist society with socialist characteristics. Traditional values, socialist legacy, commercial forces, and globalization have all played significant roles in the ongoing transformation. The goal of the course is to examine the complex interactions among diverse historical forces in a rapidly changing China. Course taught in Mandarin Chinese.

EAST1950U South Korean Cinema: From Golden Age to Korean Wave
Instructor: Michelle H. Cho
This seminar explores the cinema of South Korea, proceeding chronologically and thematically, interrogating the key problematics of gender and genre. We will think about cinema's role—as a medium for visual storytelling and as a site for producing cultural norms and values—in assessing the consequences of historical events and in helping to construct official histories. Across films from Korean cinema's "golden age" (1950's and 60') to post-authoritarian realist cinema to the contemporary era of globalized, transnational genre films, we will map the questions, themes, and debates on the formation and effects of South Korea's cinematic imaginary of nation. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.

EAST1950X Queer Japan: Culture, History and Sexuality
Instructor: Samuel E. Perry
This seminar investigates cultural practices enacted by Japanese gays and lesbians, or otherwise related to same-sex attraction. How have sexual identities traditionally been constructed in Japan, and how has the modern period transformed them? How has same-sex sexuality become figured in the Japanese art, literature and popular culture of the 20th century; and how have the forces of a global LGBT culture interacted with the specific experiences of a same-sex community in Japan? This class explores questions about queer history, writing and cultural practice by looking at particular moments in the Japanese past and present.

ECON1590 The Economy of China since 1949
Instructor: J. Vernon Henderson
This course examines the organization, structure, and performance of the economy of mainland China, with a focus on urban and regional development. The course analyzes the changing economic system including the roles of planning and markets and government economic strategy and policies. The pre-reform period (1949-78) receives attention in its own right, but especially as it influences developments in the market-oriented reform period since 1978. Topics covered include rural and urban development, industrialization and FDI, housing and land markets, rural-urban migration, income inequality and growth, and the evolving spatial structure of cities. Both analytical and descriptive methods are used. Prerequisite: ECON 1110 or 1130. ECON 1210 and 1410 are helpful but not required.

ENGL0610E Postcolonial Literature
Instructor: Olakunle George
Examines fiction, drama, poetry, travel writing, and cultural theory by contemporary writers from former colonies of the British Empire. We study works by Anglophone African, Caribbean, and South Asian writers. Issues include: nationalism and globalization; cultural identity and diaspora; individual interiority and collective aspirations; literary form and the very idea of "postcolonial" literature. Authors include: J. M. Coetzee, Amitav Ghosh, V. S. Naipaul, Michael Ondaatje, Caryl Phillips, Derek Walcott, Zoë Wicomb. Enrollment limited to 30 English concentrators. Others by permission of the instructor, if space allows. DVPS

ENGL1761R The Non-Fiction of "Race" in 20th-Century American Culture
Instructor: Daniel Kim
This course examines influential autobiographies and essays about the meaning of race in America across the 20th century. Writers we examine may include W.E.B. DuBois, Sui Sin Far, Younghill Kang, Richard Wright, Norman Mailer, Richard Rodriguez, Maxine Hong Kingston, Paul Gilroy. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors. DVPS LILE WRIT 

ETHN0300 Ethnic Writing
Instructor: TBA
This course will explore the idea of "ethnic writing" in both theory and practice. Students will examine how writers draw upon race and ethnicity (not always their own) to produce creative works and will then put these ideas in practice in their own writing, including but not limited to fiction, poetry, memoir, and inter-genre work. Interested students should attend the first session prepared for an in-class exercise that will determine attendance. Enrollment limited to 17. Instructor permission required. S/NC. 

HIAA1750C Orienting Asia in Anglo-European Visual Culture
Instructor: Kay D. Kriz
This seminar will examine painting, prints and the decorative arts. We will examine objects produced in Asia for export to the west as well as images that are oriented towards Asia. Enrollment limited to 20. 

HIST0420 Histories of East Asia: Japan
Instructor: Kerry Smith
This is a course for students who have always been curious about Japan but haven't had an opportunity to explore that interest fully, for anyone in search of a better understanding of the historical contexts that shaped Japan's complex relationships with China, Korea and the West, and for all those who wish to broaden their exposure to the histories of East Asia. Open to all students, this course assumes no prior knowledge of Japanese culture, history, or language. E

HIST0970P Culture and U.S. Empire
Instructor: Naoko Shibusawa
This seminar examines the relationship of American culture to U.S. imperial project. We will look at how cultural ideologies such as those about race, gender, and American exceptionalism have not only shaped Americans' interactions with other peoples but also justified the spread of U.S. power. Enrollment limited to 20 first year students. FYS M

HIST0980E Continental Histories
Instructor: Nancy J. Jacobs
Sometimes human history is seen as a competition, as if people on different continents were the teams and the finish line is the present. This seminar probes the power of this pervasive, yet flawed idea. Close consideration is given to environment, economics, conceptions of race, imperialism, and the nature of historical analysis. Enrollment limited to 20 first year students and sophomores.

HIST1520C The Modern Chinese Nation: An Idea and Its Limits
Instructor: Rebecca A. Nedostup
How did the Chinese empire become a nation-state? This question drives a survey of the history of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Chinese societies overseas from 1895 to the present. We will explore a variety of conceptions of the Chinese nation and the rise of new state formations, investigating the extent to which they shaped the way people experienced everyday life. We will also pay attention to those who have been excluded by or unwillingly drafted into these processes, or who live outside them altogether, looking at other ways society has been organized and culture defined. M 

HIST1540 Samurai and Merchants, Prostitutes and Priests: Japanese Urban Culture in the Early Modern Period
Instructor: James L. McClain
Examines the cultural traditions of the urban samurai, the wealthy merchant, and the plebian artisan that emerged in the great metropolises of Edo, Osaka, and Kyoto during the early modern period. Focuses on the efforts of the government to mold certain kinds of cultural development for its own purposes and the efforts of various social groups to redirect those efforts to suit their desires and self-interest. P 

HIST1973J Korea: North and South
Instructor: James L. McClain
This course offers a systematic investigation of the political, economic, and social histories of Korea, North and South, from the inception of the two governments following liberation from Japanese occupation in 1945 to the present day. Enrollment limited to 20. M 

HIST1977N State, Religion and the Public Good in Modern China
Instructor: Rebecca A. Nedostup
In late imperial China, religion formed an intrinsic part of public life, from the cosmological ritual of the state to the constitution of family and communities of various kinds. This arrangement was challenged in the twentieth century by the fall of the dynastic system and the introduction of new definitions of religion, modernity, sovereignty, and secularism. We will explore the ramifications of this change in greater China and its border areas during the past hundred years, looking at how people have sought to create a good public and the public good. Enrollment limited to 20. M

INTL1550 Chinese Foreign Policy
Instructor: Lyle J. Goldstein
The objective of the course is to enable students to gain familiarity with the evolution of modern Chinese politics as it related to international relations, as well as a comprehensive understanding of Chinese foreign policy priorities and institutional processes. Exploring various historical explanations, developing critical reading skills, and employing policy analytical tools will enable students to better evaluate the numerous dilemmas confronting academics and policymakers in understanding and responding to China's rise. Students will emerge from the course with a more sophisticated understanding of China's rise and the implications of this momentous development for the international system. Enrollment limited to 40.

INTL1802B Korean Politics and Security
Instructor: TBA
Since 1953, the United States and South Korea have maintained a formal security alliance, and the peninsula remains home to 28,500 U.S. troops. Developments in Korea have an important impact on the region and the world making knowledge of the Koreas and their challenges vital for understanding the dynamics of the region. This course will explore the history, politics, economics, and security of North and South Korea and their role in the larger security context of East Asia. Enrollment limited to 20 seniors concentrating in International Relations. WRIT

PHP1680T Translation, Diffusion and Cultural Relevance of Health Promotion Interventions
Instructor: William Rakowski
Intended to help students become familiar with three key aspects of disease prevention/health promotion programs: (1)how findings from "basic" behavioral and social science(BSS) research are tested for effectiveness in real-life settings(translation); (2)how programs with demonstrated effectiveness, in one or more local settings, are introduced and adopted more broadly (diffusion); and (3)how cultural relevance is involved in both translation and diffusion. Translation and Diffusion will comprise the two main sections of the semester. Cultural relevance will be a theme integrated into each part of the course. Appropriate for BSSI, MPH, and advanced undergraduate students with coursework in public/community health. Open to juniors and seniors only.

POLS1280 Politics, Economy and Society in India
Instructor: Ashutosh Varshney
This course will concentrate on three aspects of the "Indian experience": democracy, ethnic and religious diversity, and political economy. With a brief exception, India has continued to be democratic since 1947. No developing country matches India's democratic record. Second, remarkable cultural, ethnic and religious diversity marks India's social landscape, and influences its politics. Third, Indian economy has of late been going through a serious economic transformation, drawing comparisons with China. Is the comparison valid?

POLS1822Z Racial Attitudes and their Impact on American Politics
Instructor: Michael S. Tesler
The course first documents trends and sources of change in racial attitudes. It then evaluates the debate between psychological, sociological and political explanations for opposition to racial policies. We then transition from the policy realm to the impact of racial attitudes on electoral politics. In this half of the class we will study how racial attitudes have influenced partisan and presidential politics from Reconstruction up through the present, how parties and politicians use racial appeals for electoral gain, how racial attitudes affected black candidates before Obama, and racial attitudes and their impact on American politics in the age of Obama. Enrollment limited to 20. WRIT

SCSO1200 Race, Science, and Society: Genomics and Beyond
Instructor: Catherine A. Bliss
Why are drugs being marketed as racial saviors? What does biotechnology have to do with race? This course introduces students to interdisciplinary approaches to the study of race in science and society as an integrated natural and social scientific endeavor. Using a team-based pedagogy, interdisciplinary groups of natural and social science concentrators will explore real-world problems like validating knowledge about racial difference, the relationship between politics and science, and the newest findings in such scientific fields as anthropology, epidemiology, and cognitive science. Intended for seniors who are interested in race and STS, the course will give priority enrollment to students who co-enroll in BIOL 0310, 0400, 0470, 0480, or have taken similar Biology courses. Enrollment limited to 40. S/NC

SOC0300F Unequal From Birth: Child Health From a Social Perspective
Instructor: Margot I. Jackson
Why are the children of immigrants so healthy? How do experiences in families, schools, neighborhoods and the health care system produce unequal health? What are the consequences of health for the economic and social welfare of individuals and populations? We will read, discuss and evaluate social science evidence to understand how social and economic inequalities produce and result from health inequalities among youth. Attention will be given to both industrialized and developing societies, and to potential ways that social policies can equalize children's health. This course is designed for first-year students and should appeal to a variety of interests, including social justice, medicine, research and law. Enrollment limited to 20 first year students. FYS WRIT

SOC0300K Inequalities and Health
Instructor: Susan Short
We start from the assumption that the social organization of society shapes definitions and experiences of health and illness, the distribution of diseases, and the responses to them. We explore the relevance of social structure and social interaction to health and well-being, emphasizing socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, gender, and social contexts such as relationships, families, schools, and neighborhoods. This is not a "sociology of medicine" course. It will not emphasize the profession of medicine, health care policy, or health care organizations. Enrollment limited to 20 first year students. Instructor permission required. FYS WRIT

SOC1871S Legacies of Inequality: The U.S. and Beyond
Instructor: Margot I. Jackson
Does education equalize or widen gaps between people and nations? Has mass imprisonment reduced crime or exacerbated U.S. racial inequality? Does biology determine destiny, or is society more fluid? This course introduces theory and research on social inequality, emphasizing temporal dimensions of social differentiation. Attention will be paid to the characteristics we are given (race, sex), those we achieve (education, income), and institutions and policies we encounter throughout the life cycle (schools, the justice system). By understanding the complexities of social inequality and the challenges of devising solutions, students will leave as informed citizens, better equipped to enter any profession. Enrollment limited to 20. First year students require instructor permission.

TAPS1281O Acting Outside the Box: Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality in Performance
Instructor: Kym Moore
Examines the relationship between social and cultural identities and their representations in dramatic literature and performance. Students will be expected to read critical essays and plays, conduct research, and prepare to act in scenes that challenge the actor to confront the specifics of character and situation beyond the Eurocentric ideal. The goal is to strengthen the actor's ability to construct truly meaningful characters by removing any reliance of "type" and/or immediate "identification" with the characters they will portray. Instructor permission required; interested students must come to the first class, fill out an application and participate in a sample class. Accepted students will be notified by the third class meeting. You must show up to every class meeting in order to keep your application active throughout the registration process. Enrollment limited to 18. DVPS

TAPS1610 Political Theatre of the Americas
Instructor: Patricia Ybarra
This course explores political theatre and performance in Latin America, the US and Canada. The primary concern will be the use of performance in indigenous rights, queer rights, and gender equity campaigns as well as general critiques of socioeconomic inequity. The course examines the strategies used by actors in theatrical performances, performance art, and political protests that use the tools of performance. Exploration is of the rich relationship between politics and performance. There are no prerequisites, but one course in either Latin American Studies or Theatre and Performance Studies is recommended.