Course Meeting Times

Seminar: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session


No previous knowledge of gender or representation is expected.

Course Description

This course explores stereotypes associated with Asian women in colonial, nationalist, state-authoritarian, and global/diasporic narratives about gender and power. Students will read ethnography, cultural studies, and history, and view films to examine the politics and circumstances that create and perpetuate the representation of Asian women as dragon ladies, lotus blossoms, despotic tyrants, desexualized servants, and docile subordinates. Students are introduced to the debates about Orientalism, gender, and power.

No previous knowledge of gender or representation is expected. The readings and movies will offer you the background you need. However, you must do the reading prior to coming to class and attend all lectures and film screenings. Course discussion and writing assignments focus on assigned readings rather than individual library research. Students carry out individual research projects and present their findings in a conference format at the end of the semester and write a five page paper summarizing their findings.

The class meets once per week and follows a seminar format. Students will be expected to attend all class meetings (attendance will be taken), to complete the readings as scheduled on the syllabus, and to come to class prepared to engage in a focused discussion of the issues raised by the readings.

Required Books

Soh, C. Sarah. The Comfort Women: Sexual Violence and Postcolonial Memory in Korea and Japan. University of Chicago Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780226767772.

Constable, Nicole. Romance on a Global Stage: Pen Pals, Virtual Ethnography, and "Mail Order" Marriages. University of California Press, 2003. ISBN: 9780520238701.


Class discussion & participation 20%
Four response papers 20%
Two 5-7 page essays 40%
Final research paper 20%


1. Class Discussion and Participation

This seminar promotes an active approach to learning. Not only are you required to attend all class meetings, but you will be expected to engage actively in group discussions in ways which demonstrate your critical reflection on the readings. The final class session will be devoted to presentations of the final research papers, and these presentations will be taken into account in calculating participation grades. Because involvement in class activities is so important, two unexcused absences will lower your grade by one-half of a letter grade. For example, with two unexcused absences your grade will drop from an A- to a B+. Legitimate excuses require a written and signed letter from a doctor.

2. Response Papers

There are four response papers on assigned readings over the course of the semester. These papers require you to reflect on the readings, either by developing your own insights or by evaluating the methods used by their authors. Each is worth five points, for a total of 20% of your course grade. Late papers will not be accepted.

3. Two 5-7 Page Essays

In weeks 5 and 9, you will be asked to submit a 5-7 page (double-spaced) essay on an assigned question. These essays will require you to make a critical, insightful, and compelling argument that synthesizes issues raised by readings from the previous weeks. Each paper will count for 20% of your course grade. Papers will be due in class. Unexcused late papers will be penalized one portion of a grade (e.g. an A becomes an A-) for each day late.

4. Final Research Paper

At the end of the semester, you will complete a final research paper (5 pages). Final papers will be due on the last class.