Asians in the U.S.

Hunter College Summer 2013

Course Number: ASIAN 210
Time: MW 11:40 – 2:50
Location: Hunter West W113
Course website: /
Hunter College Women and Gender Studies:
Hunter College Asian American Studies:


Keith Miyake (email)
Adjunct Instructor
Doctoral Candidate in Geography, Program in Earth and Environmental Sciences
The Graduate Center, CUNY
Office hours: Wed. 4-5 or by appointment

Course Description

ASIAN 210 is an introductory course in Asian American Studies, where we will learn about the historical and contemporary contexts of Asian Americans in the U.S. We will look at the ways in which social, political, and economic structures, ideas, and practices have given meaning to the term “Asian American” in relation to other social categories of racial and cultural difference. In other words, we will continuously ask the questions of when, where, why, for whom, for what purposes, and how the category “Asian American” holds meaning in the U.S., and how those questions are shaped by, among other things, racism, economic structures, law, citizenship, space, and culture. We will analyze a variety of mediums using a range of disciplinary approaches to theory.

Learning Objectives

The primary objective for this course is that students understand and are able to articulate the diverse and contradictory roles of Asian Americans in U.S. society over the past 200 years. This includes histories and theories of migration, racial logics, labor, community formation and organizing, and the establishment of Asian American Studies as an academic field. To this end, students should have a working knowledge of the concepts of race, ethnicity, orientalism, capitalism, and the model minority myth.


Course readings can be downloaded from here (login required).

Most of the readings for this course will be made available as PDF documents on the course website. You are encouraged to download the readings well ahead of time to prevent last-minute technical hiccups associated with downloading or printing documents. It is your responsibility to have either a digital or hard copy of all reading materials in class.


Grades for this course are assigned using a weighted-point system. Each of the grading categories listed below is assigned a percentage-based weight according to its relative impact on final grades. The grade for each category is calculated separately, then they are weighted and combined for a maximum possible final grade of 100%.

For example, participation has a weight of 10%, so if a student earned a participation grade of 90%, this would add 9% (90% of 10%) toward the final grade.


Attendance & Class Participation10%
In-Class Presentations & Quizzes15%
Web Assignments30%
Midterm Writing Assignment20%
Final Project25%

Attendance and Class Participation (10%)

I will take attendance at the beginning of every class. Students are expected to attend class on a regular basis. Each absence will result in the reduction of a student’s participation grade by one grade point (e.g., A to A-). If a student is absent for more than half of the scheduled classes, they will automatically receive a grade of “WU” (unofficial withdraw). There will not be make-ups for quizzes or other in-class activities missed while absent.

Class participation is an assessment of a student’s active involvement in class discussions, group activities, and other in-class activities. It is expected that students come to class prepared to discuss all of the day’s assigned readings. If a student is clearly not engaging with in-class activities, or is clearly engaging in non-class related activities (e.g., texting, facebook, side conversations, etc.), their class participation grade will be reduced correspondingly.

Quizzes and In-Class Presentations (15%)

Students should come to class prepared for a short quiz on the assigned reading, reading reflection, or other in-class activities requiring active participation. Unless otherwise specified, these assignments must be completed in class. These quizzes and in-class activities are not intended to be punitive; rather, their purpose is to gauge how well students are comprehending the course topics so that the lectures and other activities can be adjusted accordingly.

Each student will be required to give short in-class presentations on the assigned readings at least twice during the course. The format and content of these informal presentations is flexible, but at the minimum, students should cover each of the relevant points on the reading guidelines.

Web Assignments (30%)

For every class, students will contribute a written piece to the class website based on three roles: primary readers, respondents, and researchers. The order in which each student takes on these various roles will be determined during the first class, and each student will fill each role multiple times. Students are expected to complete their assignments according to the guidelines below unless an alternative arrangement is agreed upon with the instructor ahead of time.

The purpose of these assignments is to create a collaborative learning environment, where everyone shares their understandings of the materials with others in the class and as a way of contributing to public bodies of knowledge. Grading of these assignments will be very loose since their purpose isn’t to test reading comprehension; rather, they are designed to encourage reflection and engagement with the concepts we cover in class. They are also provide a low-stakes opportunity for students to improve their writing skills through practice. Thus, completion of the assignments will be weighed much more heavily than content, but effort will still be taken into consideration.

Additional details on web assignments is posted under Blogging Guidelines.

Mid-term Project (20%) – Due June 24

Find a contemporary popular media item of interest, such as a news article, song, social media meme, local event, etc., and produce a written analysis of it using one or more theoretical frameworks discussed in class. Don’t be afraid to use some of the questions from the reading guideline as a point of reference in your analysis. The analysis needs to include a theoretically informed thesis and several arguments to support your thesis, citing at least two of the readings from class to support your claims and arguments. Students are encouraged, but not required, to use additional outside research materials to support your thesis. The total length should be 750–1,000 words.

Final Writing Assignment (20%) – Due Last Class

The final writing assignment is to expand one of the short pieces written for a web assignment into a 1,500–2,000-word paper. The purpose of this assignment is to practice revising and formalizing writing. This means developing a thesis, expanding arguments, relating ideas to other texts, providing examples, and improving clarity. Citations are required, and at least two of the assigned readings should be cited in the paper, and using additional outside sources is recommended.

Additional Information

Academic Integrity

Hunter College regards acts of academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, cheating on examinations, obtaining unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents) as serious offenses against the values of intellectual honesty. The College is committed to enforcing CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity and will pursue cases of academic dishonesty according to the Hunter College Academic Integrity Procedures.

Accessibility & ADA

In compliance with the American Disability Act of 1990 (ADA) and with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Hunter College is committed to ensuring educational parity and accommodations for all students with documented disabilities and/or medical conditions. It is recommended that all students with documented disabilities (Emotional, Medical, Physical, and/or Learning) consult the Office of AccessABILITY, located in Room E1124, to secure necessary academic accommodations. For further information and assistance, please call: (212) 772- 4857 or (212) 650-3230.

Course Schedule

The course schedule is located here