Culture of Emphasis: Chinese in California

ED413C Culture of Emphasis: Chinese in California 

Course Overview

This course introduces students to key elements of Chinese history, culture, and identity, with a particular emphasis on Chinese communities in California. Recognizing that Chinese national identity and heritage is distinct from yet interconnected with the Chinese-American experience, the class will cover a varied selection of foundational topics in order to appropriately contextualize the teaching of Chinese language and culture in California. Chinese national history, traditional culture, and philosophy will be taught as well as immigration political activism, modern pop culture, and cross-cultural narratives. 

This class will be conducted in Mandarin; readings will be in English and/or Mandarin, and student-led activities will be in both languages. 

This course addresses the following Standards and Expectations: 

California Bilingual Authorization Program Standards

  • Standard 3: Context for Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
  • Standard 5: Culture of Emphasis

  • Standard 6: Assessment of Candidate Language Competence California Educator Preparation Standards

  • Standard 9: Equity, Diversity and Access to the Curriculum for All Children

  • Standard 10: Preparation for Learning to Create a Supportive, Healthy Environment for Student Learning

  • Standard 12: Preparation to Teach English Learners

California Teaching Performance Expectations (with an in-depth focus on TPE 7, Teaching English Learners)

  • TPE 2. Monitoring Student Learning During Instruction
  • TPE 4. Making Content Accessible

  • TPE 5. Student Engagement

  • TPE 6. Developmentally Appropriate Teaching Practices

  • TPE 7. Teaching English Learners

  • TPE 8. Learning about Students

Course Objectives

  • Familiarity with major historical periods and events for persons of Chinese/Chinese-American origin 42

  • Awareness of the relationships between different Chinese ethnic groups in China and in the US

  • Knowledge of demographics and sociological perspectives between groups of Chinese/Chinese- Americans

  • Understanding of the values and customs of various Chinese/Chinese- American groups

  • Discernment of the issues of the political status of these groups, particularly as evidenced through the media and technology

Course Grading Attendance & Participation (10%)

Students are expected to attend class regularly and participate in class discussions. Satisfactory completion of all assignments, logs, and projects is required. 

Reflections (20%)

Once a week, students must write a blog post for the course website on a topic related to contemporary China or Taiwan (art, culture, politics, social issues, economics, etc.). Each entry should introduce the topic in 1-2 paragraphs, including a citation or link to the original source(s), followed by a brief personal reflection. Each student must complete ten blog posts by the conclusion of the course. Students are expected to read each other’s posts and be prepared to discuss them in class. Mapping 

Final Project (30%) 
Students will visit the Los Angeles Chinatown and a site in the Chinese-speaking San Gabriel Valley region. They will then create a class presentation comparing and contrasting these “new” and “old” Chinese communities through first-hand observation and visual documentation. Conclusions and claims must be supported by careful analysis of economic and demographic data, historical documents, linguistic and geographic information, educational resources, and information gathered from social, cultural, and religious institutions in those areas. Other relevant criteria may be used to strengthen the presentation as well. 

Final Paper (40%)
Students will write a 5-page reflection paper comparing two works of fiction or poetry: one by a Chinese author and one by Chinese-American author. The paper should reflect on major themes discussed in class. Books must be approved by the instructor.

Required Texts
Chang, Iris. (2004). The Chinese in America: A Narrative History. New York: Penguin Books

Mair, Victor, Steinhardt, Nancy S. & Goldin, Paul R. (2005). Hawaii Reader in Traditional Chinese Culture. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Wei, Djao. (2003). Being Chinese: Voices from the Diaspora. Tuscon: The University of Arizona Press.

Olsen, Laurie (2007). Made in America: Immigrant Students in Our Public Schools. New York: New York Press.

Zhou, Min. (2009). Contemporary Chinese America Immigration, Ethnicity, and Community. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Supplemental Readings

Zhou, Min. (2009). “Parachute kids” in Southern California: the educational experience of Chinese children in transnational families. In Contemporary Chinese America Immigration, Ethnicity, and Community. Philadelphia:Temple University Press.

Zhou, Min. (2009). Negotiating culture and ethnicity: intergenerational relations in Chinese immigrant families. In Contemporary Chinese America Immigration, Ethnicity, and Community. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Zhou, Min. (2009). Rethinking assimilation: the paradox of “model minority” and “perpetual foreigner”. In Contemporary Chinese America Immigration, Ethnicity, and Community. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Zhou, Min. (2009). Chinese schools and the ethnic system of supplementary education. In Contemporary Chinese America Immigration, Ethnicity, and Community. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Wang, Gungwu. (2013). The dilemmas of place and practice. In Sinaphone Studies: A Critical Reader. Shu-mei Shih, Chien-hsin Tsai, and Brian Bernards (Eds.). New York: Columbia University Press.

Te-hsing Shan (2013). At the threshold of the gold mountain: reading Angel Island poetry. In Sinaphone Studies: A Critical Reader. Shu-mei Shih, Chienhsin Tsai, and Brian Bernards (Eds.). New York: Columbia University Press

Yung, Judy. (1995). Unbound Feet: A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco. Berkeley: University of California Press

Wang, Ling-chi. (1998). Roots and changing identity of the Chinese in the United States. In Frank Ng (Ed.). Adaptation, Acculturation and Transnational Ties Among Asian Americans. New York and London: Garland.

Lee, Erika. (2002). The Chinese exclusion example: race, immigration, and American gatekeeping, 1882–1924". In Journal of American Ethnic History(Vol. 21, no. 3). Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Ong, Paul and Liu, John M. (1994). U.S. immigration policies and Asian imigration. In The New Asian Immigration in Los Angeles and Global Restructuring. Ong, Paul M., Bonacich, Edna and Cheng, Lucie (Eds.) Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Zheng, Su. (2010) Claiming Diaspora: Music, Transnationalism, and Cultural Politics in Asian/Chinese America. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Yan, Yunxiang. (2009) The Individualization of Chinese Society. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Hansen, Valerie. (2015) The Open Empire: A History of China to 1800. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Suggested Literature and Film for Final Paper

Boggs, Grace Lee. (1998). Living For Change. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Chin, Frank. (1981). The Chickencoop Chinaman and The Year of the DragonSeattle: University of Washington Press.

Chin, Marilyn (2009). Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Lee, Li-Young. (1986). Rose. Rochester: BOA Editions.

Ha, Jin. (2009). A Good Fall. New York: Pantheon Books.

Kingston, Maxine Hong. (1975). Woman Warrior: Memoir of a Girlhood Among Ghosts. New York: Vintage International.

Lai, Him Mark, Lim, Genny, & Yung, Judy. (1980) Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Lin Yutang. (1936). My Country and My People. Hong Kong: Hesperides Press.

Tan, Amy. (2006) The Joy Luck Club. New York: Penguin Books.

Wong, Jade Snow (1989). Fifth Chinese Daughter. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Mo Yan. (1994) Red Sorghum. New York: Penguin Books.

Han Han. (2013) This Generation: Dispatches from China’s Most Popular Literary Star (and Race Car Driver). New York: Simon & Schuster.


Lowe, Felicia. 1987. Carved in Silence (about Angel Island find info)

Discovering Angel Island: The Story Behind the Poems, KQED

Other Resources

Guo Xiaolu. (2008). A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers. Norwell: Anchor Books.



Geographic and Demographic Contexts

• Knowledge of geographic and demographic features of China

• Geographic factors on language variations

• Immigration and migration patterns within the US

• Settlement patterns in the US

Historical Context

• Identify Major Historical Eras, Movements and Developments in the Country

• Religion, Values and Belief Systems of Different Groups in the Country, including indigenous groups

• Effects of various historical factors on the language and culture in China and recognize contemporary influences on the language in the US

• Historical developments in the US

Sociopolitical Context and Governmental Systems

• Governmental Systems and the Distribution of Power

• Economic Systems

• Religious traditions

• Educational systems

Sociocultural & Cross-cultural Context

• Socialization patterns and practices in China and US

• Preservation of Traditional Patterns of Socialization and Modifications in the US

• Factors and Features of Daily Life

• Chinese humanities and arts and their manifestations in American popular culture