Asian American Studies 19507745

Midterm Essay: Metacommentary (750 Words)

Form: The form of this essay will take after Jenny Boully’s The Body, an Essay. Rather than writing a standard essay form, you will instead write only footnotes that reference an absent body text. The body text you reference can be a real text, such as a text from class, your own writing, or elsewhere. Alternatively, it can an imagined text, one that doesn’t actually exist at all.

Content: The content of this essay is your commentary on something else. Your notes about the absent text you are referencing. Your observations and thoughts about that which we cannot, ourselves, as readers, see. If your absent text is a poem from class, then your essay will be your thoughts on the poem. If your absent text is a grocery list you put together the night before, then your essay will be your thoughts on that grocery list.

Citations: You must reference or cite three texts, either poems or essays, from the readings we’ve done in class.

Expanded Midterm Explanation

When writing this paper, you’ll begin by choosing something from your journal, from your notes, from lecture, from the texts we’ve read in class, etc. 

Ex 1: As the Vietnamese delegates explained how the US War in Viet Nam depended on gendered and sexualized violence in Asia, Asian American women emphasized the transnational nature of that violence. “We, as Asian American women, cannot separate ourselves from our Asian counterparts,” Evelyn Yoshimura argued. 1 “Racism against them is too often racism against us…. The mentality that keeps Suzy Wong, Madame Butterfly and gookism alive turns human beings into racist murdering soldiers and also keeps Asian Americans from being able to live and feel like human beings.”

Add a footnote or two, explaining your thinking about something in your chosen excerpt.

Evelyn Yoshimura references the inseparability of Asian American women from Asian women across the world. How the Asian American woman might sometimes seem an isolated figure, distant from those who live in Asia. But how the very same violences that affect Asian American women affect, too, those women across the Pacific.

Ex 2: You can also add a footnote based on your own footnote!

It has never occurred to me that I might be isolated, myself, from Asia. I have always considered myself to be in relation to people, even if I’ve only been once or twice to Japan. There is something that keeps my attentions on Japanese media, Japanese people.

Ex 3: You might add a footnote to something you’d written in your assignments earlier. For example, if earlier you wrote about your parents’ immigration story:

I think what I was trying to say here was that in order for me to understand myself, in order for me to explain myself to anyone else, I first must start with the story of my parents. So I want to take this space to tell that story.

But remember! The source of your footnote will not be included in the essay. Only the footnote.

Later, when you cite your sources, say what you used. But the texts you use, themselves, should not appear in the essay.

So, the beginning of my final essay would look something like:

1. Evelyn Yoshimura references the inseparability of Asian American women from Asian women across the world. How the Asian American woman might sometimes seem an isolated figure, distant from those who live in Asia. But how the very same violences that affect Asian American women affect, too, those women across the Pacific.

2. It has never occurred to me that I might be isolated, myself, from Asia. I have always considered myself to be in relation to people, even if I’ve only been once or twice to Japan. There is something that keeps my attentions on Japanese media, Japanese people.

3. I think what I was trying to say here was that in order for me to understand myself, in order for me to explain myself to anyone else, I first must start with the story of my parents. So I want to take this space to tell that story.

This essay is essentially a bunch of numbered comments on a bunch of texts that are not actually present, except when you cite them in your works cited page.

Some strategies:

If you are unsure how to write your footnotes, here’s some ideas:

1. Go through your notes. Highlight those places you’re most interested in writing about. Then, write a footnote detailing why you’re interested in that note. Write a footnote detailing what it was that you were trying to understand at this point. Write a footnote about where your mind wanders off. Write a footnote about what you fail to understand here. Write a footnote about something tangentially related. Etc.

2. Another technique might be to refer directly to the texts we’ve been assigned. Write a footnote interpreting the text. Write a footnote rewriting the text in your own words. Write a footnote that challenges what is being said. Write a footnote detailing your confusion, and you attempt to work it out. Write a footnote that speaks of how this passage made you feel. Write a footnote that speaks of what this passage made you think about. Etc.

3. You might also go back to your own journals and think about what you’ve written there. And highlight, further, and expand upon what it is you’ve said. Explain why you said what you said there. Explain what you didn’t explain before. Explain what it is you need to understand to be better able to understand the thing you wrote. Write a footnote that tells the story behind the story. Write a footnote in which you reflect upon why it was that you write what you wrote. Etc.

Each of these are potential ways of writing the essay. There are many possible forms. Your job is to create your own.

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