HIST-LIT 90FN: Speculative East Asias





Instructor: Adhy Kim
Meeting time: Monday, 12:45-2:45 pm

Speculative East AsiasIn the twenty-first century, commentators and historians have argued that with the decline of American power, we are entering the “Asian century”. What does it mean for the future to “look Asian”? Techno-orientalist tropes tend to accompany these speculations, while the historical and geopolitical forces that animate them are ignored. How do imagined futures and alternate worlds depend on the histories they come from? In this course, we examine cultural productions by East and Southeast Asians and their diasporas that imagine speculative, science fictional, magical realist, weird realist, or otherwise non-realist worlds. Paying particular attention to the legacies of militarism and empire, we consider how imaginaries of East Asia are entangled with the U.S.-led Cold War system, the post-Cold War dominance of finance capitalism, and climate change.Tracking connections between diverse regions and peoples, we explore how Asians and Asian Americans dovetail in their visions of historical memory, present-day crisis, and future possibility. In doing so we will read sci-fi novels and poetry and watch hallyu films and anime. These speculative fictional worlds prompt us to reflect on the world we live in now and the histories we have inherited.