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"Chinatown" and the American Imagination

Semester and Year FA 2014
Course Number IDSEM-UG1229
Section 001
Instructor Jack Tchen
Days Mon
Time 12:30 PM - 3:15 PM
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Units 4.0
Level U
Foundation Requirement HUM


Same as SCA-UA 370 001. Please note there ia a required lab session on Wed, 12:30-1:45.


What is a “Chinatown”? The word alone evokes many images, sounds, smells, tastes from many different sensibilities. For recent immigrants it can be a home away from home, for “outsiders” an exotic place for cheap eats, for male action flic fans Chow Yun Fat (or Mark Walhberg) in “The Corruptor,” and for you ?!? (fill in the blank). We’re going to explore the nooks and crannies of Chinatown in the American imagination and in its New York real-time, non-virtual existence. How do we know what we know and do not know? What does Chinatown have to do with the formation of normative “American” identities? What are the possibilities (and limits) of crossing cultural divides? Class members will individually and/or in groups research, experience, and document a chain of persons, places, and/or events creating their own narrative “tour” of this place’s meanings. Novels, history books, tourist guides, films, and pop culture will supplement the primary “text” of New York Chinatown. This will be a collaborative, discussion-intensive, field research-driven class.

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

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