Asian North American Literature
Spring Term Test Instructions
Time: 6:10-8:10 p.m.
Location: Medical Sciences Building, Room 3163
Aids permitted: You are permitted one page of notes, which must be turned in at the end of the test. No other aids are permitted. You may not use any of the texts from the class, or any other book, during the test.
Identifications (10 points each)
You will be given a range of passages drawn from the reading for spring term. You will be asked to choose three passages. For each passage, identify the author and the title of the work. Briefly explain the context in which the passage appears, including, if necessary, identifying the characters who are speaking or described in the passage, and briefly explain the passage’s significance.
Essay (70 points)
Three of the following four topics will appear on the test. You will be asked to choose one and write a clear, focused, concise essay in response. The essay should have a clearly defined argument and should support that argument with detailed textual evidence. As a literary analysis, the essay should concern itself with the form, style, and language of the texts, and should draw its central concepts from those texts, rather than from external assumptions. You may wish to focus on a small number of examples from the texts, rather than trying to make generalizations about the text as a whole. You do not need to answer all the questions within a topic; they are only suggestions for issues you may wish to consider.
1. Discuss the theme of incest in SKY Lee’s Disappearing Moon Café and Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters. What are the causes and consequences of incest in each of these texts? What larger social and historical issues does incest seem to represent?
2. Karen Tei Yamashita’s Tropic of Orange and Bharati Mukherjee’s The Middleman and Other Stories are unusual among Asian North American texts in that they extensively depict interactions between Asian and non-Asian North Americans. Why do these writers use a multiethnic range of characters? What do they show about relationships between Asians and non-Asians in North America that goes beyond books with all-Asian casts?
3. Both Jessica Hagedorn and John Yau present characters we might call “Hollywood Asians”: either Asian characters as depicted in films or Asian viewers who become obsessed with Hollywood images. How do these two writers understand the relationship between Asians and film? What does it mean in their works for a white actor to play an Asian, or for an Asian to identify with a white film character?
4. Compare the mother-daughter relationship depicted in Alice Wu’s film Saving Face with that described in Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictée. How do the daughters imagine their mothers’ lives? Do they identify with their mothers or resist them? How do their mothers’ stories affect the daughters’ own development?