Spring 2019 - ENGL 457W D100

Topics in Asian North American Literature (4)

Class Number: 1677

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    WMC 2521, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    One 300 division English course. Reserved for English honors, major, joint major and minor students.



Investigates topics in Asian-Canadian and/or Asian-American literature. The course may vary according to theoretical, historical or geographical focus. Writing.


The Cold War in Asia: Asian American and Asian Canadian responses  

The period post-WWII until the 1980s is conventionally understood in the West as the Cold War. Marked by events such as the Cuban missile crisis, the war in Vietnam, and the fall of the Berlin Wall, these years are remembered as a tense time when it seemed that the conflict between communist and capitalist democratic ideologies might result in the outbreak of nuclear war. At the same time, it is important to remember that these same tensions played out very differently in Asia and took the form of multiple bloody and violent wars. This course will return to this historical period in order to rethink what is conventionally remembered in the West as a conflict between the US and the USSR as a struggle that also involved—and, indeed, staged in--Asia.  

By reading novels, a graphic novel, poetry, and memoir that move us through the Chinese civil war, the Korean war, the wars in Southeast Asia, and North Korea, we will explore the legacies of Cold War logics and the afterlife of the wars in Asia for Canadians and Americans. How do these contradictory memories and competing historical narratives shape how Asians in North America imagine themselves and are understood by non-Asians? How does what critic Jodi Kim calls the “protracted afterlife” of the Cold War continue to influence current conversations about migration, citizenship, and global events and politics? We will contextualize our discussions of these literary texts with critical and theoretical material and documentary films in order to think critically about these competing cultural representations and the narratives they produce.


  • Seminar presentation including write up (4-5 pgs/1200-1500 words) 20%
  • First Paper and Revision (6-8 pgs/2000 words) 30%
  • Final Paper and Revision (10-12 pgs/3000-4000 words) 40%
  • Attendance and Active Participation 10%



  • Samantha Lan Chang, Hunger
  • Chang-rae Lee, Native Speaker
  • Madeleine Thien, Dogs at the Perimeter
  • GB Tran, Vietnamerica
  • Souvankham Thammavongsa, Found
  • Blaine Harden and Shin Dong-Hyuk, Escape from Camp 14

Department Undergraduate Notes:

IMPORTANT NOTE Re 300 and 400 level courses: 75% of spaces in 300 level English courses, and 100% of spaces in 400 level English courses, are reserved for declared English Major, Minor, Extended Minor, Joint Major, and Honours students only, until open enrollment begins.

For all On-Campus Courses, please note the following:
- To receive credit for the course, students must complete all requirements.
- Tutorials/Seminars WILL be held the first week of classes.
- When choosing your schedule, remember to check "Show lab/tutorial sections" to see all Lecture/Seminar/Tutorial times required.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html