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Asian American Posthumanisms: Biopolitics, Ecopoetics, and Literature

CHUM 308
Fall 2020
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: ENGL 306, AMST 318
Course Cluster and Certificates: Writing Certificate, Urban Studies

From 19th-century anxieties concerning subhuman coolies to 21st-century celebrations of suprahuman cyborgs, US discourses have always figured people of Asian descent as peripheral to the category of the human. While Asian Americanist scholarship has often responded by asserting the humanity of Asian Americans, a number of scholars and writers have begun to explore and even embrace the inhuman character of the Asian American. Drawing from recent scholarship in science studies, political ecology, anthropology, and literary studies, this course will consider what it looks like to shift the scale of analysis from the individual, organismal human to the social logics, biopolitical infrastructures, and ecological entanglements that supersede the human, or conversely, to the bodily fragments, molecular processes, and fragments that subtend the scale of the human. We will pay particular attention to the question of what consequences decentering the human has for the ethnic novel, a genre often valued for its ability to affirm the humanity of racialized subjects. For instance, what kinds of aesthetics and politics emerge from an imaginary centered not on the human individual but on systems, landscapes, entanglements, and other imaginative forms and social practices? What does a novel centered not on a human protagonist but on an object, a clone, or an ecosystem look like?

To explore these non-human centered logics and forms, we will read theoretical texts by Anne Cheng, Rey Chow, Donna Haraway, Aihwa Ong, Rachel Lee, Nikolas Rose, Anna Tsing, and others, alongside a selection of contemporary (and capaciously defined) Asian/American novels by writers such as Kazuo Ishiguro, Larissa Lai, Chang-rae Lee, Ruth Ozeki, and others.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA CHUM
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Student Option
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ENGL)
Past Enrollment Probability: Less than 50%

Last Updated on JUN-17-2024
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