Race, Robots, and Asian American Literature (LIT2603.01)

Franny Choi

From Blade Runner to Ex Machina, visions of robotic futures are populated with Asian bodies, settings, and cultural forms. How is it that robots became so closely linked to the racialization of Asian/American people? What might we learn about the latter by examining how the former shows up in our cultural imagination? And how have Asian diasporic writers handled these uncomfortable entanglements in literature? In this 2000-level literature course, we will examine works of fiction, poetry, and film that engage connections between Asian/American identity and artificial life. In doing so, we will build close reading skills, practice constructing arguments about texts, and explore key concepts in Asian American Studies. Course readings will include literary works by writers like Chang-Rae Lee, Larissa Lai, Karen Tei Yamashita, and Bhanu Kapil; critical essays by Edward Said, Vijay Prashad, and Robert G. Lee; and several films. You will write weekly responses and 1-2 papers. For the final project, students will have the option to either give a presentation about a piece of media featuring robots, or do a creative project with a critical introduction. This course may appeal to students with who are interested in Asian American Studies, 20th and 21st Century Literature, Feminist Studies, and/or Speculative Fiction.

Learning Outcomes:
- To closely read works of literature in conversation with critical and other texts.
- To explore key concepts in Asian American Studies, including Orientalism, assimilation, exclusion, and the model minority myth.
- To explore methods that Asian/American writers and artists have used to address these and other issues in their work.
- To analyze works of speculative literature (specifically, those that involve robots, cyborgs, and other forms of artificial life) through the lens of race, class, gender, and coloniality.
- To apply learnings from this class outward, in order to analyze other texts/objects or create new works.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 1:40PM - 3:30PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency: Once a year

Categories: 2000 , All courses , Four Credit , Fully In-Person , Literature , SCT
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