Asian North American Literature
Prof. T. Yu
Due Thursday, February
16, at the beginning of class
Maximum length: 1800 words (approx. 6 pages, double-spaced)
Discuss two of the three authors we have read up to this point in the spring term (SKY Lee, Cha, Mukherjee) in relation to one of the topics below. Develop an argument that links both texts and support that argument with specific evidence drawn from the texts, analyzing such elements as language, imagery, character, and narrative structure, rather than relying on abstract reflections on the topic. (If discussing Mukherjee, you may focus on just one or a few stories.)
1. Discuss the role of narrators in these texts. In some cases, these are first-person narrators (Lee’s Kae, Mrs. Bhave of Mukherjee’s “The Management of Grief”); in others, the author uses third-person narration. How do such narrators present and filter stories? Are they always reliable, or is there reason to mistrust their statements? Is the narrator a character in the story, or somehow outside it? What is the relationship between the narrator and the author, particularly in cases (such as in Mukherjee’s stories) where the narrator is of a different race or gender?
2. In Disappearing Moon Café, Kae describes her family as “ungrounded women…trapped by circumstances,” yet also wishes to see them as “women with passion and fierceness in their veins.” Discuss the portrayal of women in two authors. In what ways are women “ungrounded” or displaced? What kinds of links do the authors make between female characters?
3. In these texts, places within North America are often portrayed alongside places outside North America (Korea, India, China, Latin America). What is the purpose of these juxtapositions? What similarities and differences do the authors and their characters note between these spaces? How do these texts make connections between North America and places outside it?
4. If you have a strong interest in a topic of your own design, you may write on it, provided that you discuss the topic with me no later than one week before the paper’s due date. You must discuss at least two of the authors read to this point in the term.