This site serves as an archive of blog posts and resources for the Fall 2016 “Border Crossings in Asian American Literature” course at Dickinson College. It provides a space for students to reflect on the literature we’ll be reading this semester, share comments and close readings, and discuss the contexts that inform our literary texts. The site also houses a dynamic bibliography featuring a range of resources which students will develop collaboratively throughout the semester. We hope you’ll follow our blog, browse the bibliography, and join our conversation. If you have any questions about this website or the course, please contact Dr. Sheela Jane Menon at menons@dickinson.edu.


The 2012 US Census reported that Asians were the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States that year, totaling almost 19 million. As a population that has made and continues to make significant contributions to the American economy and American culture more broadly, Asian Americans face an ongoing struggle to assert their place within the United States. This struggle has been profoundly shaped by experiences of migration that are, in turn, influenced by wars, immigration policies, socio-economic tensions, and globalization.

This course explores the various borders and border crossings that emerge across 20th and 21st century Asian American literature by writers including Adrienne Su, Carlos Bulosan, Kazim Ali, and lê thi diem thúy. Our examination of these texts will be framed by the following questions: What kinds of borders are imagined in these texts? How do imagined borders intersect with the realities of geopolitical borders and immigration acts? How do race, gender, citizenship, and class influence the ways in which characters and communities negotiate these borders?

We will unpack how literary texts articulate diverse immigrant experiences and engage the tensions of both real and imagined border crossings. In the process, this course will also explore the very definition of “Asian American,” considering the communities that are included and excluded from this collective, as well as their specific socio-political histories. Various critical perspectives – such as postcolonialism, US legal history, feminism, and popular culture – will inform our readings and discussions.