Una Chung

BA, University of California-Berkeley. MA, San Francisco State University. PhD, Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Special interests in Asian American literature and film, late 20th-century transnational East and Southeast Asian cultural studies, East Asian film, postcolonial theory, ethnic studies, globalization, affect, new media. SLC, 2007–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Literature

History and Fantasy: An Introduction to Cultural Studies

Open , Lecture—Spring

This cultural studies course explores a selection of literature, film, video, performance art, installation media art, and sculpture, with an emphasis on feminist and postcolonial artists. The course covers a variety of methods of cultural criticism, as well as key texts in Marxist, postcolonial, and feminist theory. These diverse materials are organized around the central theme of the entanglement of history and fantasy, which appears in contexts as varied as urban development, war, migration, exile, environmental disaster, spiritual journey, psychological disintegration, haunting, and love. These are techno-myths for our time.

Faculty

Marxist Aesthetic Theory and New Media Art Practices

Intermediate , Seminar—Year

This course opens in the contemporary milieu of digital media, which are paradoxically both hyperorganized in their penetration of infrastructure and inchoate as a cultural formation. Not for the first time, scholars have been torn between articulating a rupture and tracking a continuity. We begin our study of new media by turning to early 20th-century critical debates that raised the question of “What is literature?” as a way of inquiring into the nature and extent of social transformation caused by the development of capitalism. The function of criticism was also implicitly recontextualized in political terms at the boundary between art and society. Taking these historical literary discourses as points of departure, we further explore the particular significance of studying new media in American culture today. We consider a broad range of both new media arts and commercial digital applications, with a special focus on how to write art and cultural criticism involving new media. The first semester of the course focuses on Marxist literary theory, while the second semester emphasizes the aesthetics and art practices of contemporary digital culture.

Faculty

Previous Courses

Global Feminisms

Advanced , Seminar—Year

This is a graduate course, open to undergraduates in their junior and senior year.

This course explores the work of feminist intellectuals and artists of the 20th century, with an emphasis on the specific challenges arising within discourses on the global, transnational, diasporic, and indigenous within feminist thought. The common underlying thread of the course is not tied to a concrete movement or ideology but, rather, runs through the collective awareness that the social organization of gender and sexuality always has much to reveal about how a society views labor, embodied knowledge, sensuous life, intimacy, violence, emotional intelligence, environmental embeddedness, species-consciousness, etc. We examine the micropolitics of everyday life, as well as macroformations of power that structure societies and entire transnational regions and blocs. Our site-specific investigations are attentive to the thresholds that lie between regions (geographic, cultural, imaginary) and the complex needs of those who attempt crossings.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

Marxist Aesthetic Theory: Literature and New Media

Intermediate , Seminar—Year

This course opens in the contemporary milieu of digital media, which are paradoxically both hyperorganized in their penetration of infrastructure and inchoate as a cultural formation. Not for the first time, scholars have been torn between articulating a rupture and tracking a continuity. We begin our study of new media by turning to early 20th-century critical debates that raised the question “What is literature?” as a way of inquiring into the nature and extent of social transformation caused by the development of capitalism. The function of criticism was also implicitly recontextualized, in political terms, at the boundary between art and society. Taking these historical literary discourses as points of departure, we further explore the particular significance of studying new media in American culture today. We consider a broad range of both new media arts and commercial digital applications, with a special focus on how to write art and cultural criticism involving new media. The first section of the course focuses on Marxist literary theory, while the second section emphasizes contemporary digital studies.

Faculty

The Ethnological Temptation: How an Aesthetic Became a Personal Identity

Open , Seminar—Year

This course begins not with a definition of what “Asian Americans are” (as Wikipedia does) but, rather, with a skeptical investigation into the existence of the concept itself. We examine varied historical precedents for contemporary understandings of “Asian American” as a political entity, cultural formation, or personal identity. Intertwined histories of labor, migration, war, philosophy, and art lie half-visible beneath the ordinary surface of everyday language today. We look back at examples of the most creative and potent uses of the terms East, Oriental, and Asian. In the “ethnological book,” as described by Roland Barthes, “appropriation diminishes, the Self’s certitude grows lighter.” The “ethnological temptation” names the moment of a twin arising—liveliness solidified by racial taxonomies—as an aesthetic category gains life by defining a new type of social being. One of our central concerns is to understand how a politics of identity arose as a response to experimental art and technological innovation, as well as came to be deployed as a political tactic in struggles over (neo)liberalism in the United States and in discourses on globalization. The first section of the course focuses on specific histories within Asian American studies, whereas the second section takes a more comparative approach to diverse formations of identity politics—including immigration, race, gender, sexuality, and posthumanism.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

Global Feminisms

Seminar

This course asks a simple question: What happens to sex and gender when we travel? We will explore a few of the many causes of transnational movement—immigration, war, political exile, work, education—as they appear in literature, film, and art. These primary cultural sources will provide rich sensory details about such migrations from the perspective of embodied experience. By working with artists’ texts and images, we will not be collecting data about gendered bodies and sexualities; instead, we will develop analytical tools for understanding how bodily experience is captured in language and how that language is used to make decisions about bodies in society. In a nutshell, gender never travels whole and intact across any border. Gender is a part of the force of territorialization. At the same time, the inherent power (or volatility) of the sign of gender has allowed it to animate diverse insurrectionary movements, both social and artistic. In particular, we will work through an assemblage of material, focusing on three transnational sites that pass significantly through South/East Asia, Middle East/North Africa, and US/Europe. This is a writing-intensive course, which will cover different forms of writing—from the short and explosive to the long and thorough.

Faculty

War, Violence, Spectacle

Advanced , Seminar—Fall

"Writing has now come face-to-face with a most crucial juncture: to negotiate with the inescapable presence of violence,” says Jason Mohaghegh. This course looks at the fiendish ways in which war haunts Asian/American writing of the late 20th century. Beyond the geopolitical event, wars enter memories, dreams, fantasies; reroute kinship structures and create unexpected alliances; re-map civil societies according to spontaneously naturalized conceptions of an internal enemy, detainee, POW; merge espionage, intelligence, and treachery into tropes of ethnic identity; and blur boundaries of peace and conflict into endless territories of home inseparable from terrains of war. "This is not dialectics; this is irrelevant catastrophe, for though the West forever stands as the First World, the East is never the Second or Third World, but rather the Seventh or Twelfth now becoming a Zero-World (insurgent waves of obsolescence).” (Mohaghegh). We will track literary texts into contagious zones of ancient media and new rituals. We will read analyses of contemporary war and theories of war technologies against the grain to extract the signs of a new aesthetics of violence.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

First-Year Studies: Imaginariums of Globalizing Asia

Open , FYS

This course provides a foundation for engaging in contemporary cultural studies in a transnational framework, with a particular interest in the roving horizon of the East. We will focus on a diverse selection of literature, together with film, video, sound, and other media. Our venture will be to explore an emergent trove of myth, fable, fantasy, image, and meme, which are becoming new imaginariums of cultures evolving in globalizing economies. Maps of this-and-that Asia, sedimented through centuries, appear against an uneven terrain of new cities, migration patterns, finance circuits, media chaos, and polymorphous bodies. There is everywhere a search, an unnamed hero, and a cleaving of East and West. In particular, our study of texts will attempt to understand the appearance of a new type of fictional character that is an elusive figure haunting discourses of a globalizing Asia. This figure is traceless, secretive, fugitive, nomadic, infinitely resourceful, and completely enmeshed in the contemporary world. Tracking this figure, we will find ourselves immersed in esoteric archives of fact, data, discarded things, cybernetic voices, old wigs, fake photos, abandoned houses, maps to elsewhere, and the ever-present signs of insurrectionary movements—political, criminal, poetic.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

New Media Lab: Mapping the Invisible

Open , Joint seminar—Spring

The traditional ways of mapping the world rely on drawing objects that we can see with our eyes; but much of human experience is structured according to systems, networks, and connections that are largely unseen. What systems of meaning should be acknowledged when documenting our surroundings? What kinds of knowledge do we recognize in our sense of place? What is the difference—and what are the similarities—between our personal, cultural, and technological accountings of the world? Maps of the invisible can be based on any kind of connection perceived in a terrain. In this course, we’ll study landscapes that are both geographic and intangible—based on objective reality but also on memory, narrative, and systems of power—and reference artists, thinkers, cartographers, and geographers who are interested in manifestations of invisible systems while learning the basics of digital media production. Students will produce two individual map projects and contribute their own set of project markers to a larger collaborative map that we’ll design as a class. Readings will include the works of artists Trevor Paglan, Kathy Acker, Guy Debord, Fred Tomaselli, Paula Scher, Layla Kurtis, Alighiero Boetti, Joyce Kozloff, Ed Ruscha, and Susan Stockwell, as well as the writers Gloria Anzaldua, Amitav Ghosh, and Jorge Luis Borges.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

Gilles Deleuze

Advanced , Seminar—Fall

“Perhaps, one day, this century will be known as Deleuzian,” said Michel Foucault in 1970. A centurian microfable thrown together in Deleuze’s words: “Clarity endlessly plunges into obscurity.” “The intelligence always comes after; it is good when it comes after; it is good only when it comes after.” “This is the powerful, nonorganic Life which grips the world.” “Something in the world forces us to think. This something is an object not of recognition but of a fundamental encounter. What is encountered may be Socrates, a temple or a demon.” “Perhaps we are moving too fast.” “…we ‘approach’ the point of conversion, the point of transmutation that will establish our dominion, that will make us worthy of action, of active joys.” “Being exhausted is much more than being tired.” This seminar will examine the history of Deleuze's writings, as well as subsequent waves of Deuleuzians in the 20th and 21st centuries, in order to illuminate situations that motivated new ways of understanding ecology, technology, politics, and war.

Faculty

East-West: New Visions of Asian American and Postcolonial Writing

Open , Seminar—Year

There is an orientalism in the most restless pioneer, and the farthest west is but the farthest east. —Thoreau

This course moves restlessly between two cardinal directions: currents of migration from Asia to North America in the 20th century and countercurrents of desire from the New World seeking the wisdom of the East. The different travelers sometimes seem invisible to each other as they silently pass and, at other times, seem to be moving in both directions—torn between the American dream and American beatitude. We will look at the history of Asian American immigrant writing for the truth behind the dream—and also at writings that record the experiences of exiles, refugees, travelers, tourists, journalists, monks, activists, gurus, and poets—for the stories they tell about desires oriented by an entirely different dream. This course examines migration history and postcolonial theory along with a broad range of literature, including diasporic writers connected to East Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

Faculty
Related Disciplines