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Viewing: ASAM 208 C2: Asian American Cinema

Last approved: Tue, 24 Mar 2020 15:01:06 GMT

Last edit: Thu, 13 Feb 2020 15:17:57 GMT

First Name Last Name Userid Title Home School Org Short Name
Robert Buscher buscherr Lecturer School of Arts and Sciences Asian American Studies Program
Fall 2020 (Non-Substantive Changes ONLY)
Fall 2018
Asian American Cinema
Providing a broad introduction to the history of persons of Asian descent living in the United States, this course will specifically examine the Asian American & Pacific Islander American experience as told through the cinematic lens. Equal parts socio-political history and media studies, this course will comprehensively assess factors contributing to the historical under representation of AAPIs in mainstream American media. By contrast, the media texts that we study will reveal a cinematic history that runs parallel to the mainstream, consisting of independently produced films created by and/or starring AAPIs that feature authentic portrayals of the community they represent. Topics will include economics of film production, broadcast television ratings, film festivals as a mechanism of distribution, negative stereotyping, Hollywood whitewashing, cultural appropriation, and media activism. The course will take place once a week and will consist of a brief discussion of the previous week's readings, followed by a lecture, and ending with a full or partial film screening relating to the current week's topic. Additional out of class assignments will be given that involve attending the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, tentatively scheduled November 8-18, 2018. Students will have the opportunity to engage with and learn from AAPI filmmakers in attendance at the festival, with additional volunteer opportunities available for extra credit.
Every Other Term

Foundational Approach

Course usually offered in Fall term
Cultural Diversity in the US
Robert Buscher
Part Time Lecturer
Part Time Lecturer
While this is an introductory course to the subject matter, students who previously took ASAM foundational courses will get the most out of it. However, it is not necessary for students to take a pre-requisite to effectively engage with the curriculum. There is potential to create a second level course in the subject that would build off the material covered in this course, should sufficient interest present itself within the ASAM program.
Upon completion of this course students should be able to effectively interpret cinematic and other media texts in a critical manner related to ethnic/racial representation. Students should also be able to convey their opinions on cinematic texts in a concise way through writing and oral discourse utilizing skillsets learned in this course.

Methods of Assessment

Paper 1 2,500 words 20%
Paper 2 2,500 words 20%
Festival Reflection 4,000 words 25%
Final Presentation 25%
The course culminates in a conference style presentation of the Festival Reflection paper, done in lieu of a written final.
Attending programs throughout the 11-day Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival is a must for students to complete the reflection and final presentation. Tickets are provided free of charge courtesy of the film festival.

Cross Cultural Analysis


Cultural Diversity in the US

This course offers a comprehensive history of Asian immigration from the mid-19th century to present day by studying visual text. The racialization of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans is a focal point of the curriculum, although the other factors in differentiation are frequently discussed as well.
Given the complexity of the Asian American & Pacific Islander community, the course consistently requires students to compare and contrast the ways in which different Asian and Pacific Islander ethnic communities have been portrayed in American popular culture. Groups are assessed in terms of their relative privilege and access to opportunities within media and entertainment industries, which often correlates directly to the length of time their community has resided in the United States and status of their ancestral country of origin in global politics during a given era.
The complexity of disaggregating data about 40+ distinct cultural and linguistic communities who have been classified under US census law as a monolithic AAPI community is a semester-long endeavor. Many of the factors used to differentiate these communities include immigration status, educational attainment, median income, home ownership, and English proficiency - all of which have an impact on how and to what extent these communities are represented in mainstream media.
By contrasting the rise of the Asian American independent media movement with mainstream Hollywood productions, students are able to assess the relative scarcity of opportunity for AAPI actors outside of trope-laden stereotypes and other bit parts. Each course lecture includes an extensive discussion on the historical time period that a given film or movement emerged to better contextualize these issues within the larger framework of social inequality.
Students spend the first half of the course developing their skills in media analysis, writing papers that require critical analysis of several key film texts within a given historical time period. The Festival Reflection assignment then requires students to apply the knowledge they have learned toward an in-depth field study of the contemporary AAPI film productions that are being showcased during the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival each November.

Quantitative Data Analysis


Formal Reasoning


Administrative Fields

College Curriculum Committee
Key: 891