From the very beginning of Asian immigration to America in the middle of the nineteenth century, Asian Americans, including Indian-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Vietnamese-Americans, etc., have authored their own musical works. However, long before they entered America physically, Asians (and the idea of Asia) had already entered America figuratively as the subject(s) of musical works by Western composers. Asian Americans have therefore been both represented in music, and have used music to represent themselves. This course focuses both on music about Asian Americans and music of Asian Americans in order to understand how each of these types of musical and cultural representation have come to dynamically shape one another, thereby contributing to the formation of a unique Asian American—and American—cultural identity. We will pay particular attention to the ways in which Asian Americans have used music to respond to and reshape the challenges to and contradictions of American citizenship.
Students should be able to perform the following by the end of this course:
- summarize arguments on the importance of music and popular culture for defining and debating Asian American identity;
- discuss how particular features of musical sound have been used to evoke racialized difference for Asian Americans;
- formulate a unique and significant argument regarding a particular concept or theory in the study of Asian American music.