HIST-LIT 90FB: Asian America in Popular Culture





Instructor: Karen Huang
Meeting time: Wednesday, 3:00-5:00 pm

Asian America in Popular CultureThe release of Crazy Rich Asians in 2018 was a significant cultural moment for Asian America: the first major Hollywood picture with a predominantly Asian American cast in over twenty years, the film was an immediate box office success, and followed by a proliferation of mainstream Asian American productions, including The Farewell, Indian Matchmaking, and Minari. This recent growth of Asian American media is especially remarkable, given that Asian America has been relatively invisible in the history of American popular culture. Why has there been such a limited range of Asian American representations, and how do we consider the significance of contemporary representations of Asian America in this context? To address these questions, we will begin by exploring the origins and evolutions of Asian American representations in nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. culture. Then, we will consider contemporary representations of Asian America, organized according to three key themes: romance, family, and panethnicity. We will look at films, TV shows, stand-up comedies, journalism, digital media, and popular music, in order to examine the new and expanding ways that Asian American identities and experiences are mediated and narrativized through the versatile forms of contemporary popular culture.