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–

Course Information

Current undergraduate courses

First-Year Studies: Imaginariums of Globalizing Asia

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.

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Related Cross-Discipline Paths

Hauntologies: Specters of the Subject Cultural Formations

Spring

"The future belongs to the ghosts,” remarked the philosopher Jacques Derrida in 1996. As his interlocutor Bernard Stiegler phrases the main idea behind this statement, “Modern technology, contrary to appearances, increases tenfold the power of ghosts." With the advent of the Internet, various forms of social media, and the ubiquity of filmic images in our lives, Derrida's observations have proven to be prophetic such that they call for a new field of study, one that requires less an ontology of the real and more a “hauntology” (to invoke Derrida's punning term) of the spectral, the virtual, the phantasmic, the recurrent. In this seminar, we consider ways in which the present is haunted by a condition of spectrality. Topics to be covered include: ghosts and hauntings, figures and apparitions, history and memory, trauma and political crisis, digital interfaces, visual and acoustic images. We will be considering a range of films and video, photography, literary texts, acoustic reverberations, Internet and social media, and everyday discourses and imaginings. Through these inquiries, we will be able to further our understanding of the nature of specters and apparitions in the contemporary world in their many forms and dimensions. Students will be invited to undertake their own hauntologies and thus craft studies of the phenomenal force of specters, hauntings, and the apparitional in particular social or cultural contexts.

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War, Violence, Spectacle

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.

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Related Cross-Discipline Paths

Previous courses

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

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.

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Gilles Deleuze

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.

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New Media Lab: Mapping the Invisible

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.

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New Media Literacies

Spring

Culture and technology are rapidly coming closer together in ways that both extend and go beyond Adorno’s analysis of a “culture industry.” Marxist critical theory provided the foundation for the political analysis of culture and art from the mid- to late-20th century. It may be that today we need to broaden the language of the humanities to include informatics, big data, calculation, procedural rhetoric, protocol, interface, derivative wars, multimodal compositing, topology, interactivity, and the financialization of life. The aim is to focus more precise attention on contemporary discourses of everyday life, culture, and design in metropolitan hubs globally. At the same time, fundamental ethical questions, as well as new political issues, will be raised within the terms of these new literacies. We will begin with key writings of the Frankfurt School, then continue with critical essays by Luhman, Kittler, Deleuze, Foucault, Latour, Berardi, Martin, Hayles, Galloway, Manovich, Lury, Chow, Ang, Hansen, and Goodman. 

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Sex in the Machine

Spring

This course will explore feminist and queer perspectives on technology and digital media. What is the relationship between our views on technology and our views on bodies? We will move from existentialist inquiry into the question of woman, through theories of social construction of identities and gender performativity, to science and technology studies’ investigation of nonreproductive sexualities revolving around key tropes of cyborg, body modification, prosthetic, and posthuman. We will read critical essays by Beauvoir, Spillers, Parisi, Terranova, Butler, Cheah, Barad, Mahmood, Sedgwick, Clough, Haraway, Pitts, Sobchak, Hayles. We will also look at a small selection of literature, film, and art/design that provoke deeper inquiry into our key topics.

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