ENGL 206
Beyond the Tiger Mom: Depictions of East Asian Mothers in Contemporary American Literature
Last Offered Spring 2024
Division I Writing Skills
Cross-listed AAS 206
This course is not offered in the current catalog

Class Details

A tutorial designed to explore the interpretative difficulties and possibilities of East Asian mothers and motherhood in contemporary American literature (fiction and memoir). The “Tiger Mom”–highly controlling, strict, severe almost to the point of abuse–has become the go-to phrase for many Americans when referring to traditional East Asian mothering styles. This attempt to categorize and simplify cultural differences fails to capture the complex nature of East Asian mothering. While the American public imagines East Asian parenting as only unwavering and harsh, immigrant parents, for example, must often find a parenting strategy that bridges traditional East Asian and mainstream American norms. This course will explore the ways that contemporary Asian American authors depict the complexity of East Asian mothering and mothers. What kinds of mothering does the reductive category of Tiger Mom ignore? What are the central questions these authors pose about mothers and motherhood? How do they negotiate the tension between the individual versus the community, or the pursuit of the child’s own interests as opposed to success as defined by the parent when it comes to that child’s future? And what are the pitfalls of reading literature as social science? In keeping with tutorial format, students will meet in pairs with the instructor once a week; during these meetings, one student will present a short analytical paper on the texts covered that week. The other student will write a response paper and join the instructor in a discussion of both papers. The reading list may include work by Ocean Vuong, Yiyun Li, Michelle Zauner, Celeste Ng, Amy Tan, Jessamine Chan, Maxine Hong Kingston, Alice Sola Kim, and Amy Chua, among others.
The Class: Format: tutorial; In keeping with tutorial format, students will meet in pairs with the instructor once a week; during these meetings, one student will present a short analytical paper on the texts covered that week. The other student will write a response paper and join the instructor in a discussion of both papers.
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 3771
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: A paper or response each week; extensive comments (verbal and written) on published and student work; active participation in class; creation of writing assignments and discussion questions.
Prerequisites: A 100-level English course, or the equivalent.
Enrollment Preferences: Anyone who has taken a 100-level English course, or the equivalent.
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ENGL 206 Division I AAS 206 Division II
WS Notes: A paper a week, of varying lengths, with the opportunity for multiple drafts. Extensive time spent in and out of class on every stage of the writing process. Opportunities to meet with professor outside of class at any stage of writing. The students' writing tendencies, critical and analytical writing skills, and their editorial modes are as much a subject of the course as the published literature is.
Attributes: AAS Core Electives
ENGL Literary Histories C

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