On the Course

Course Description

In this course, we will analyze the key ideas, people, fads, and phenomena of Asian Americans’ everyday lives, broadly defined.  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.  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?


Throughout the semester, we will explore primary “texts” in emergent Asian American popular cultures, and pair them with the theoretical analyses of Asian American popular culture studies.  We will consider these objects and practices in relation to Asian Americans’ pasts and presents, thinking about race at the intersection of class, gender, sexuality, and citizenship as we work through other interdisciplinary frameworks like performance studies, media studies, material culture studies, and communications.  We will also be working together to share our findings in written and presentation forms.



Course Learning Outcomes

  • To consider popular culture as a form of knowledge, in all of its cultural, social, and political implications
  • To apply cultural theory and cultural analysis to understand meaning-making in Asian American communities and cultures at the level of everyday life
  • To think critically about what constitutes an “Asian American” popular culture in terms of race, ethnicity, class, gender, cultural nationalism, diaspora, and transnationality
  • To understand the ideological and material foundations of “diversity,” difference, and race
  • To practice advanced reading, writing, and research skills through conceptual and creative thought

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