English 49B: Asian Americans and Cinema Pasadena City College, Spring 2007 Dr. Kathleen Green Office: C156D Phone: 585-7497 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 9:15-11:30 and Thursday 11:00-12:00 Course Description: This course is about the representations of Asian Americans in American cinema. We will be studying and analyzing the development of stereotypical images and the efforts of Asian American actors and filmmakers to rewrite those stereotypes. We will discuss how we might define “Asian American Cinema” and examine the major factors that have shaped the development of an “Asian American Cinema.” The goals of this course are to teach students how to analyze Asian American films within their aesthetic, social, and historical contexts; to expose students to new information about the role of Asian Americans in making as well as acting in various types of films; and to teach students how to write meaningfully about cinema. The course will include lecture and discussion plus readings to help students learn how to engage fully with the films shown. Student Learning Outcomes: Upon successful completion of the course, the student will be able to.... 1. understand film as a visual representation of social issues, historical periods, and human relationships. 2. discuss the relationship between literary conventions and film form and language. 3. research the importance of film to particular historical or social issues 4. write analytically about films in the context of a larger film history Required materials: 1. Jun Xing, Asian America Through the Lens 2. Various articles on reserve or available online at the PCC library. Password for electronic reserve is “canary.” Recommended: Timothy Corrigan, A Short Guide to Writing About Film, 6th edition. What’s special about a film class? Film classes are fun, but they are also a lot of work, and they require slightly different study habits than a regular course. Here are a few tips to help you earn the best grade possible: Take good notes on the films. Unlike literature courses, you won’t have a written text in front of you when it is time to write exams and papers, so you need to have excellent notes about everything that happens in the films. You may think you will remember it, but trust me, you won’t remember what order every scene went in or what significant outfit a character was wearing or exactly when a certain shot appeared. Take some time after class to write down your ideas and impressions about a film, class discussion, lecture, and so on. Do the readings before you see the film so you know what to look for when viewing, then skim through them again after you’ve seen the films. Don’t think you can miss class and just rent the film. Many of the films we are seeing are not easily available, but more importantly, the professor’s commentary and the class discussion about the film will help you immensely when writing about it. Grading: Students will complete the following written work. Students must complete all work to pass the class. Excessive absences (more than two weeks) may also result in a failing grade or being dropped from the class. 25% In Class Test on Stereotypes—This essay and short answer test covers the material in the first five class sessions. 15% Weekly Quizzes—Most weeks we will have a short quiz at the beginning or end of the class. These quizzes will cover the assigned reading and the films. They will be a combination of short answer and short essay questions. Quizzes cannot be made up. The lowest grade will be dropped, and the rest of the scores will be averaged. 10% Class Participation—An easy way to add points to your grade is to show up on time, come prepared, think about the films, and participate meaningfully in the discussion. Tardiness, absences, hogging the conversation, or saying “I think the same thing she does” when called upon will generally reduce your class participation grade. 25% Paper—You will write a 4-6 page film analysis of one of the films we will watch after Spring Break. It must include some outside research and be in MLA style. If you are new to MLA style, please attend one the library workshops on MLA style; see library website for dates. 25% Final Exam—A mixture of short answer and essay questions, this final exam is comprehensive. A final exam review sheet will be distributed on the last day of class. Visual Communications Film Festival: May 3-10, Los Angeles will host the annual VC Film Festival, which is devoted to Asian American film. Students will have 2% added to their final grade for the course for every screening that they attend during the festival. You must provide your ticket stub and write a one-page summary of what you saw with complete details about the name of the film(s), director(s), film summary, report on the question and answer session, and your interpretation/response to the work. Screenings are in various locations. Tickets can usually be purchased online (for guaranteed access) or by lining up before the screening. See the VC website for more information: www.vconline.org. Students who do not have the money to pay for screenings should contact VC this week to sign up as a volunteer. Late Work Policy: The in-class test cannot be made up, except in the event of an extreme emergency (at the discretion of the professor). The final paper may be handed in late, but 5% will be deducted from the grade for every day it is late. (Please let me know why you are handing it in late and tell me when I will receive it. Final papers that are not handed in before I turn in grades for the semester will not be graded.) Plagiarism: Plagiarism will result in a zero for the assignment and may result in failure of the course. Students are expected to understand and follow the rules for citation of sources and are expected to use MLA style. Students who have not completed English 1A are encouraged to attend an MLA workshop at the library or the writing center to learn how to cite properly. All students are welcome to come to office hours to get help. Disability Accommodation: All qualified students are entitled to reasonable accommodation for special needs upon request. If you have a verified disability, please meet with me in my office by the end of the first week of classes to discuss any special arrangements that we need to make. Scholars’ Option Students: All students taking the class for Scholars’ Option credit must see me before Wednesday of the second week of classes to discuss a study plan. Scholars’ Options students will be required to do an additional research project and create a Powerpoint presentation that you will deliver to the class. You will need to find one film clip to show along with your Powerpoint presentation. You will also turn in copy of the presentation and a comprehensive annotated bibliography. Students may choose from the following topics for their projects: Anna Mae Wong, Sessue Hayakawa, Mako, James Shigeta, Philip Ahn, early Asian-themed serials in silent cinema, or other topics arrived at through discussion with me. Asian American Cinema Resources: Several books have been put on reserve to help you with your studies. In addition, there are some excellent websites to provide further information about Asian American Film: Visual Communications www.vconline.org Center for Asian American Media (formerly NAATA) www.asianamericanmedia.org Asian American Film.com www.asianamericanfilm.com (this site has a long list of other links) Schedule (subject to revision) 2/22 Introduction to the class: What is Asian American Cinema? Reading: Asian America Through the Lens pages 31-43 Screening: Valerie Soe, All Orientals Look the Same (1986) Justin Lin, Better Luck Tomorrow (2002) 3/1 Stereotypes of Asian Americans Part One Reading: Richard A. Oehling, “The Yellow Menace: Asian Images in American Film” in the book The Kaledioscopic Lens: How Hollywood Views Ethnic Groups. NY: Ozer, 1980. This book is available on reserve at the library. Please photocopy the chapter, read it, and bring it to class. Screening: The Slanted Screen and various clips (Broken Blossoms, Charlie Chan, Fu Manchu, Year of the Dragon, Karate Kid) 3/8 Stereotypes of Asian Americans Part Two Reading: Asian America Through the Lens Chapter 2 Screening: Valerie Soe, Picturing Oriental Girls: A (Re) Education Videotape (1992) and various clips (Bridge on the River Kwai, Apocolypse Now, Platoon, Gung Ho, Pearl Harbor) 3/15 The Suzie Wong Debate 1st Reading: Gina Marchetti, “White Knights in Hong Kong: Love is a Many-Splendored Thing and The World of Suzie Wong” from the book Romance and the “Yellow Peril”, which is on reserve at the library. Please photocopy the article, read it, and bring it to class. 2nd Reading: Peter X. Feng, “Recuperating Suzie Wong: A Fan’s Nancy Kwan-dary” from the book Countervisions (ed. Hamamoto and Liu), which is on reserve at the library. Please photocopy the article, read it, and bring it to class. Screening: Richard Quine, The World of Suzie Wong (1960) 3/22 The Flower Drum Song Debate Reading: Kimberly Chun, “Returning to the Big-Screen.” Asian Week 14 March 2002. This article is available on Proquest. Please find it, print it, read it, and bring it to class. Screening: Henry Koster, Flower Drum Song (1961) 3/29 Test on Stereotypical Images—Bring Blue Book The Documentary Tradition in Asian American Cinema Homework: Each student should find one article about the Vincent Chin case. The article must be from a major newspaper or magazine; it must have been written before 1988; and it must be longer than one page. You may need to consult the reference librarian for help accessing microfilm. Print or photocopy the article, read it, and write a one paragraph summary of it. Turn in the print out of the article stapled to your summary. At the top of the summary, write the correct citation for the article in MLA format. Screening: Kristine Choy and Renee Tajima-Pena, Who Killed Vincent Chin? (1987) 4/5 The Documentary Tradition continued Reading: Asian America Through the Lens Chapter 3 Screening: Dear Miss Breed, The Grace Lee Project, Tokyo Equinox, etc. 4/12 The Role of Actors and Actresses in the Development of Asian American Cinema Reading: articles from websites (links to be provided on my website) Screening: opening section from The Slanted Screen and clips featuring Anna Mae Wong, Sessue Hayakawa, Mako, Nancy Kwan, James Shigeta, Philip Ahn, and others. 4/19 4/26 Spring Break—No class Wayne Wang and the birth (?) of the Asian American Feature Film Reading: Asian America Through the Lens pages 44-49 Screening: Chan is Missing (1982) and/or Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart (1985) VCFilm Fest May 3-10 5/3 Wayne Wang and the Hollywood Blockbuster Reading/Homework: Each student should find two articles (reviews are acceptable) about the film version of The Joy Luck Club. One article must be from a mainstream U.S. publication. The other article must be from an Asian American publication. Both articles should have been written between 1993 and 1996, and they both must be longer than one page. You may need to consult the reference librarian for help accessing microfilm. Print or photocopy the articles, read them, and write a one paragraph summary of each of them. Turn in the print outs of the articles stapled to your summaries. At the top of each summary, write the correct citation for the article in MLA format. Screening: Wayne Wang, The Joy Luck Club (1993) 5/10 The Coming of Age Film 1st Reading: Peter X. Feng, “The State of Asian American Cinema.” Cineaste 24.2 (1999): 20-24. (The article is available through Proquest. Search on the article’s title to find it, then print it out, read it, and bring it to class). 2nd Reading: Corrigan, A Short Guide to Writing about Film Chapter 1 Screening: Chris Chan Lee, Yellow (1998) or Undoing (2006) 5/17 The Coming of Age Film (continued) 1st Reading: Corrigan, A Short Guide to Writing about Film Chapters 2 and 6 2nd Reading: “Double Happiness.” Maclean’s 31 July 1995. (film review). Available on Proquest. Find it, print it, read it, bring it to class. 3rd Reading: Sheila Benson, “Chinese but not Chinese, and Revealing the Difference.” Migration World Magazine Vol. 24 Issue 1-2. Available on Proquest. Find it, print it, read it, bring it to class. Screening: Mina Shum, Double Happiness (1994) 5/24 The Family Drama (or comedy, as the case may be…) Reading: Asian America Through the Lens pages 125-140 Screening: Ang Lee, The Wedding Banquet (1993) 5/31 The Inter-racial Romance 1st Reading: Asian America Through the Lens pages 140-155 2nd Reading: Urmila Seshagiri, “At the Crossroads of Two Empires: Mira Nair’s Mississippi Masala and the Limits of Hybridity.” This article is available through the database Project Muse on PCC Library website. Find it, print it, read it, and bring it to class. Screening: Mira Nair, Mississippi Masala (1991) 6/7 Paper Due The Avant-Garde and the Role of Alternative Systems of Distribution Reading: Asian America Through the Lens Chapter 5 and pages 176-184 Screening: various short films by Valerie Soe, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Lindsey Jang, Helen Lee, etc.