The objective of this take-home essay examination is to teach you how to connect, synthesize, and assess critically and imaginatively the different cultural, visual, artistic, and aesthetic concepts, theoretical terms and ideas that I have presented in class lectures and in-class discussions. In addition, these themes are discussed in articles in your course reader.
Drawing upon material from class lectures, in-class discussions, and readings included in your course reader and posted on Canvas, please write ONE four-page (maximum four pages) essay answering one of the exam questions below. Your essay should be neatly typed and doubled spaced (with one-inch margins, and be sure to number your pages). You MUST show your knowledge and understanding of articles relevant to your answer to the exam question. Please DO NOT hand in a report or string together a series of quotations from the assigned readings.
Please structure your essay around a thesis statement, and organize your thoughts and discussion of the still images or moving images into a cohesive argument. For example, “In this essay I argue that…” (Note: essay with no thesis statement or argument will risk failing the exam)
Please do not forget to number your pages, and please reference material in proper footnotes (or endnotes). Please note that we do not accept Web sites as sources (i.e., do not use Google or Wikipedia for this assignment). There are many different styles of footnotes and endnotes. Please use the Chicago Style of footnotes and endnotes and you can find instruction and examples at the Perdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL): https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/resources.html
Take-Home Midterm Essay Questions (Note: Please keep in mind that this is a visual culture course and images are our primary texts. Some of the following exam questions is accompanied
by a set of images or a film that you have viewed in class (see the PowerPoint posted on Canvas). It is important that you ground your discussion and arguments on the set of images associated with each exam question. In addition, you need to demonstrate knowledge of readings, included in your course readers (posted on Canvas) that are relevant to the exam questions you are addressing. Note: it is your responsibility and part of your exam to figure out which assigned readings are relevant to the exam question that you have chosen to answer.
1. Drawing from the assigned readings, lectures, in-class discussions and your own critical perspective, please discuss why Asians and Asian American in the United States are situated “in-between”? Define what is this “in betweeness” means in racial and political terms? What are the political advantageous and disadvantages in an “in-between” position?
Note: This question is designed to solicit your own thoughts and perspective on the “in-between” subject position and you thus you need to go beyond what I have said in my lecture and in-class discussion. Please cite the relevant readings related to this particular question from your course reader.
2. Drawing from in-class discussions, assigned readings and lectures please discuss one particular scene in Gail Dolgina and Vicente Franco’s film, Daughter from Danang (2002) when Heidi’s birth mother and her siblings asked for her financial help (and one other relevant scene in the film that you deem relevant to your argument). Do you think that both Heidi’s birth mother and her siblings in Vietnam have made an unfair demand when they asked her to support her mother financially? Do you think Heidi is running away from responsibility as a Vietnamese-American daughter? Are these two women and by extension women in Vietnamese society in general are asked to sacrifice as mother and daughter for the well being of the Nation? What the role do men played in the family Note: Your essay must have a thesis statement. For example, “In this essay I argue that…” In brief, please do not give us a synopsis of the film or a report, 3 that is a story. Also please be sure to cite two relevant assigned readings on adoptions in your course reader. You can watch this climactic scene in the film again on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TeAYJ8JXL8
3. Drawing upon the assigned readings, lectures and in-class discussions, please situate the art of Dinh Q. Le and Hanh Thi Pham within the VietnamAmerican War. Compare and contrast how they both made use of photographs from the Vietnam-American War in their art. How do they address this issue of conflict and reconciliation in the post Vietnam-American war in their art? Are they diasporic or Vietnamese-American artists? Which one of these two artists shows more “Americaness” in their art? How do you define “Americaness”? If so, what are the visual markers of Americaness in their art? Note: Please cite assigned readings related to this question from your course reader.
4. Pulau Bidong is one of the many refugee camps where Vietnamese who fled their country by boat took temporary refugee and received help from United Nations. It is also a site that has changed dramatically since 1979 as it is portrayed in this American news film footage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJsfc9PS6ds
And a recent visit to the former refugee camp by Vietnamese-American Kyle Nguyen:
You might want to watch again for historical context: May 1979: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJsfc9PS6ds Former Vietnamese American Refugees returned to Pulau Bidong after 40 years: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiWuQRoXwMo
Binh Danh, a Vietnamese American artist will present a lecture on his artworks in our class on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. One of Danh’s art projects portrays his return to Pulau Bidong with his mother in 2004. Discuss how Danh as a Vietnamese American artist who lived on his island with his family address and understood this former refugee camps in his photographs? What do you think does the artist want to convey to viewers, to himself and to the Vietnamese American community about this former refugee camps in his photographs? Note: Please be sure to cite the relevant assigned readings in your course reader and the artist’s lecture.
5. Cultural assimilation comes in different ways. Children of immigrants and refugees are encouraged to speak the dominant language (e.g., standard American English) in order to claim their belonging to the white Nation notions of being “American.” Vietnamese American artist such as Pipo 4 Nguyen Duy has created a series of photograph titled, Assimilation, Please discuss and analyze how Pipo perform his racial and cultural assimilation differently from the linguistic model. How does what Frantz Fanon’s “corporeal malediction”1 as visual marker of racial difference limits his desire to become canonically white? Do you think Pipo’s art is about cultural and racial assimilation or is it about racial and artistic transgression? Note: Please be sure to engage with the artist’s artwork and provide visual analysis.