Speculative Futures: Asian North American Fiction and Transpacific Critique
Instructor: Professor T. Phu.
Fall Half Course.
This course explores the culture and literature of the Asian diaspora in North America, drawing on speculation as a critical framework for understanding the impacts of militarization and financialization in shaping transpacific flows between Asia and North America, whether compulsory or voluntary. A concept that emphasizes futurity, speculation denotes both a science fiction subgenre that extrapolates a future world or imagines alternative histories, and risky financial investment in hopes of future gain. Without conflating narratives of financial speculation with science fiction, this seminar considers how these these seemingly discrete approaches to pastness and futurity might be productively brought together and juxtaposed, focusing in particular on the ways in which select texts grapple with techno-orientalism, the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality, post-racial imaginaries, and the potential for reckoning with traumatic memory. Texts may include: Hiromi Goto, Half World; Mohsin Hamid, Exit West; Larissa Lai, Saltfish Girl; Chang-Rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea; Ken Liu, The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary, Marjorie Liu, Monstress, Vol. 1; Emily X.R. Pan, The Astonishing Color of After; Advantageous (dir. Jennifer Phang, 2015); Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being; Madeleine Thien, The Book of Records; Karen Tei Yamashita, Through the Arc of the Rainforest.