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Asian American Literature and Culture: A Brief History. The history of Asian American literature began around the 1940's or before. Written by non Asian Americans such as Pearl Buck.

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Asian american literature and culture a brief history
Asian American Literature and Culture: A Brief History

  • The history of Asian American literature began around the 1940's or before.

  • Written by non Asian Americans such as Pearl Buck.

  • There were many Japanese Americans who wrote autobiographies about their experiences in the concentration camps in the United States.

  • The first Chinese author to achieve financial success and was a mentor to many other Asian writers was C.Y.Lee who wrote The Flower Drum Song in 1955 which was made into a Broadway play by Rogers and Hammerstein, and a motion picture by 20th Century Fox..

  • In 1976, an evaluation was conducted on literature in print to see how Asians were portrayed.

  • Asian Americans were conspicuously absent from illustrations and characterization.

  • They found Asians in illustrations were drawn exactly the same without regard for cultural or feature distinctions.

  • They also failed to portray Asians living in contemporary United States wearing modern clothing or modern housing.

  • There was a call for Asians Americans to write about their experience and for illustrators to better portray Asian Americans.

    Council on Interracial Books for Children. (1976). Human (and anti-human values) in children’s books. New York, Neal Schuman

Asian American literature has several purposes:

  • to remember the past, to give voice to a silent people

  • to correct stereotypes of an exotic or foreign experience

  • What does Asian Mean?

  • Some things to consider:

  • Asia, as the world's largest continent, stretches from what used to be the U.S.S.R, west of the Ural Mountains, as far east as the Bering Strait, and as far south as the Indian Ocean; it is separated from Africa by the Suez Canal, includes all of the Middle East as well as the islands of the South Pacific. However,

  • Scholars of Asian American literature have been much more limited, focused primarily on writers of so-called East Asian origins:

  • Chan, Lawson, Fusao Inada, and Shawn Wong, editors of Aiiieeeee!. An Anthology of Asian American Writers (1974) claimed to be an authentic but undefined Asian American sensibility.

  • Pacific islanders, and writers whose sensibilities had been formed in Asia. As South Asians and Southeast Asians are beginning to be recognized as writers, the boundary of Asian American literature is stretching.

  • The real success story of Asian Americans is epitomized in their overall pursuit of excellence.

  • The median family income of Asian Americans exceeds that of the general population by several thousand dollars. (An exception is emigrants from Southeast Asia, refugees from the Vietnam War who only began coming to America after the war ended in 1975.)

  • Asian American children of high school age generally outscore other students on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), and their overall grades are higher.

  • Those Asian Americans whose families have been living in the United States for several generations resent being singled out and stereotyped as part of a “superminority.”

  • According to reports and research on United States immigration, Asian Americans report that:

    • Their achievements are only comparable to what other immigrant groups have done in the past.

    • They are also aware that they have often had to work harder to overcome the hurdles of racism and ethnic discrimination.

  • Asian American Demographics

    • There were more than 7 million Asian Americans in the United States in 1990. This represented a sharp increase from the 891,000 who were accounted for in 1960.

    • The statistics published by the Bureau of the Census for 1980 gave a total of 3,726,440 Asians, including Pacific islanders, which represented 1.6 percent of the population.