How do writers of color deal with the nefarious call of “ethnic literature” and write authentically to themselves? Do they ghost the accusation, or take it up with aplomb? Negotiate with its terms, resign themselves to the idea, or destroy it entirely? This course will examine representations of the Asian diaspora in literature and film, and diaspora as literature and film. Suspended between two or more cultures, languages, and lives, we will look at how our writers confront the perils of writing as a permanently hyphenated people (Asian-American, Asian-Australian, British-Asian), and take the implications of that hyphen to task.
Focusing on fiction that hails from North America, the United Kingdom and Australia—where many Asian émigrés have staked their lives and fortunes—we will analyze the conundrums that diasporic writers confront in their fiction. This includes such issues as the relationship between immigrant parents and their children; how diaspora manifests along gendered lines; the troubles of being queer and Asian; the perils of professional writing circuits; whiteness; class anxieties; and the struggle with competing notions of success and failure. And in the process, we will hopefully begin to understand the literary and personal legacies that diaspora has procured for its children—that there is, indeed, a place for us.