Asian American Studies

The hybrid course that I’m developing is ES 231, an introduction to Asian American Studies I’ve been teaching for years. The course aims to provide students with some basic Asian American history and help them develop critical analyses of some of the issues that arise from that history–for example, the role of race in framing national belonging and citizenship, race/ethnicity and labor, racialized gender dynamics, and various approaches to activism and resistance. The course is capped at 45 and usually fills since it fulfills the university’s cultural diversity baccalaureate core requirement. As a lower division course, the majority of students are in their first or second year.

The class will meet once a week for an hour and twenty minutes. In-class activities will vary somewhat week to week, but the general idea is to include some time to review and critically process what students have learned the past week. This would bring together the reading/viewing/listening that they’ve done on their own, their online discussion, and any other online activities they might have had that week and will most often happen via a quick interactive recap led by me with the help of PowerPoint or some other visual (not a lecture per se, but more questions and observations, etc.). On at least one occasion, though, this will happen via students presenting and discussing their online work–their “Day in the Life” group Wikis, which will draw on all aspects of course material up to that point.

And then other in-class activities might include small group discussion or activities, in-class writing-to-learn activities (for example, a ‘write and pass’ session, which has been successful for me in the past), and/or the playing of media selections followed by discussion. One in-class small group activity that I will probably include, for example, is giving students a set of political cartoons from the late 1800s that address Chinese immigration and asking students to collaboratively come up with detailed readings of the cartoons, especially given what they know of the historical period, and then an overarching analysis as to what the cartoons might collectively say about notions of nationhood, national belonging, etc. at the time (they are different sets, and so the activity also emphasizes the point that no moment in history is ever totally monolithic, despite dominant trends, and raises questions about the subjective nature of our access to that history now as well). At the end of the class session, each group presents their findings. In terms of other assignments, they’ll probably have a final paper and an online historical photo archive project (I’m struggling with the whole class-and-a-half thing, so might need to combine the two, especially given I also plan to have weekly online quizzes, albeit very short quizzes, as a means of giving them credit for doing the reading).

Ideally, the in-class activities, their online activities, and the work that they do on their own will all mesh together and with some really wishful thinking will feel seamless. That’s the ultimate goal in my mind, and so this first try at the hybrid version of this class will be spent finding out what works and what doesn’t in that regard, and trying to come up with fixes for the next time.

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2 Responses to Asian American Studies

  1. harwella says:

    Sounds like a great course, and a lot to try to tie together, but it sounds creative and fun…your students should enjoy it. It is definitely diverse and not boring and it sounds like they will be actively involved in all aspects of the course, not just sitting and “receiving information.”

  2. vallsa says:

    It sounds like you’ve really thought through how you will use the in-class time. I have been so focused on the online part, that I haven’t given the f2f portion much thought–yet. But I’m curious about the kinds of online materials and activities you have in mind…

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