AMST 239
Asian/Pacific Islander/American Documentary Cinemas Spring 2019
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
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Class Details

In Asian America Through The Lens, film scholar Jun Xing contends, “documentaries have been, and remain, the predominant genre of Asian American cinema” (1998). In this course, we will launch an investigation into this statement and examine a selection of A/P/A documentaries ranging from independent and experimental film, public access television, and digital and social media, 1960s—present. We will ask: (1) how did A/P/A documentary develop as a tradition and practice in relation to mainstream media industries?, (2) how has documentary been mobilized to critique, demystify, and/or disrupt dominant scripts like Orientalism, the Yellow Peril, and the Model Minority Myth?, and (3) how do documentary makers formally negotiate the generic impulse for the “real” and “authentic” against the burden of A/P/A representation? While neither chronological nor all-encompassing in its capacity, we will do our best to situate the historical and material conditions that form and inform the works and contextualize their visual aesthetic practices and tactics of representation. We will also pay particular attention to untangling the intersectional and multidimensional categories of race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, and ability that emerge from the sociohistorical processes of war, immigration, nationalism, colonialism and settler colonialism, state violence, and social movements. Finally, we will meet and engage with current artists, filmmakers, and organizers in order to gain insight into development, production, distribution, and reception.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 3009
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: weekly reading responses, a midterm paper, final creative project and paper
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: AMST 101/201 Intro to American Studies
Enrollment Preferences: American Studies majors
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: Analyzes the dynamics of power and privilege in the U.S. from a national and transnational context, examines the perspectives of socially marginalized groups, and fosters an understanding of the beliefs, experiences, and cultures of these groups.
Attributes: AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora

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