English 791BA - S- Why Compare?

Caroline Yang

W 4:00PM 6:30PM

UMass Amherst
South College Room E370
In 1867, speaking on the topic of Chinese labor in the United States, Frederick Douglass predicted, ?The old question as to what shall be done with [enslaved Black people] will have to give place to the greater question, `what shall be done with the Mongolian.?? Thus rooted in the questions of slavery and who counted as ?free? and rightful citizen of U.S. empire, Black and Asian pairings have exceeded any other comparisons of non-white peoples and have taken on different shapes and aims since Douglass's speech. This seminar takes a critical examination of this history of Black and Asian racializations in U.S. culture and criticism. In addition to representations of the comparison in dominant white culture, it examines historical writings, literary and cultural productions, and critical scholarship by Black and Asian writers to begin to answer the question: why compare? What does the comparison teach us about race and racialization in U.S. empire, and what might be the limitations of the comparative framework? Beginning with Reconstruction, we will study key historical flashpoints, ultimately concluding with our present moment in the Supreme Court's dismantling of affirmative action in college admissions. Possible literary texts may include Charles Chesnutt's The Marrow of Tradition (1901), W. E. B. Du Bois's Dark Princess, A Romance (1928), Carlos Bulosan's America Is in the Heart (1943), John Okada's No-No Boy (1957), Toni Cade Bambara's The Salt Eaters (1980), Paul Beatty's The White Boy Shuffle (1996), Gayl Jones's The Healing (1998), Nina Revoyr's Southland (2003), and Monique Truong's Bitter in the Mouth (2010).

Open to Graduate students only.

Permission is required for interchange registration during the add/drop period only.