American Born Chinese
Webquest Research Assignment

A Webquest is a moderated, curated, or guided research assignment. In a Webquest such as this one you will go through my website and use it to gather informal research information about the book we are reading. This webquest allows us to gather external information at our own pace, much like a research assignment, yet less formal, as well as to gain a much richer understanding of the book. To complete this webquest you will need to download the questions for it as a MS Word or PDF file. Then, use the Webquest and its resources to answer the questions on the worksheet.

Vibert with Yang Professor Vibert with Gene Luen Yang, the author of American Born Chinese.

Section One - Introduction to American Born Chinese
1. Please visit this website to learn what a graphic novel is.

2. Please download and read this handout that I made for information on how to read a graphic novel.

3. Click here for information about who the Monkey King is. This is from Gene Luen Yang's own website.

4. Visit this youtube video to gather information about themes and characters in American Born Chinese.

That marks the end of section one. You may wish to take a break before you move onto section two.


Section Two - Chinatown and the sense of ethnic community
In ABC, Jin moves out to the California suburbs from Chinatown, in San Francisco. It is a section of San Francisco that is mostly made up of Chinese immigrants and their descendants, as well as others of Chinese descent. It is the largest Chinese community outside of Asia

1 - Visit Wikipedia to learn what a chinatown is and what "Chinatown" itself refers to.

2 - Check out this video from that takes us inside San Francisco's Chinatown.

That marks the end of section two. You may wish to take a break before you move onto section three.


Section Three - Stereotypes

First, some definitions. A stereotype is an oversimplified, but often widely held view of what a whole group of people is like, or a characteristic that they have. A stereotype is a view or image that is very simplified so that it paints broad strokes and doesn't make important distinctions. Stereotypes often play on or use outdated and and offensive conceptions of what a group of people are like. Stereotypes can often be hurtful because of these reasons.  What we say then is that stereotypes are often prejudical– prejudice is a preconceived opinion that is not based on actual experience or is based on limited experience.

Stereotypes are often racial or racist and effect nearly every gender and ethnic and racial group. We will talk about stereotyping in general in class, especially as it relates to and effects us. For this assignment though we will be talking about American Born Chinese and Asian-American stereotypes. To this end I and we will be prominently talking about Jeremy Lin, the Chinese-American point guard for the New York Knicks professional basketball team.

1- Check out this lighthearted look at Asian stereotypes on Youtube.

2- Check out this article by NBC news about Jeremy Lin and "Linsanity"

3- Check out this article by USA today about Jeremy Lin and Asian stereotypes.

That marks the end of section three. You may wish to take a break before you move onto section four.


Section Four - Stereotypes Part Two

American Born Chinese deals prominently with Asian stereotyping in popular culture. Many Asian stereotyopes, like other racist stereotypes, originated in the 1800s based on the the simple fact that east Asian cultures appeared vastly different to westerners. East Asian was seen as a place of great strangeness and described as "the Orient" and figured (set up in popular perceptions/literature etc.) as a fantastical, strange place. That has now changed and many older preconceptions and stereotypes have disappeared into the mists of time. Some, however, have stuck around. And, arguably, racist stereotypes about Asians and Asian Americans are one of the last few acceptable forms of prejudice. You'll see that in our first video.

Stereotypes, especially prejudicial ones can be extremely hurtful, even as jokes. American Born Chinese attempts to examine some of these stereotypes, to see how've they still stick around today, and how dealing with them and transcending them is often part of being an Asian-American. ABC also looks at how hurtful these stereotypes can be, and how individuals can transcend these stereotypes.

1- Watch this video from Saturday Night Live. It's hosted on Deadspins site and if it doesn't work just google "Saturday Night Live" and "Linsanity."

2. One of the oldest Asian stereotypes involves the form of dress worn by poor Chinese farmers and laborers in the 1800's. For example, this is a Chinese farmer in traditional 1800s garb:
Chinese Farmer

3. These are immigrant Chinese workers working on the San Francisco Railroad in the 1800s:
Chinese Railroad Workers

4. This is a racist cartoon from the 1800s that exaggerates the physical features and dress of rural Chinese workers for political and humorous effect:
Racist Cartoon

4. Check out this political cartoon from 2001 that traffics in the same racist stereotypes:

That marks the end of section four. You may wish to take a break before you move onto section five.


Section Five – Chin-Kee and Popular Culture

Asian Stereotypes didn't die off in the 1800s. Chin-Kee visually and physically embodies several stereotypes from recent popular culture as well as the past.

1 - Check out some footage from blockbuster 1980's film "Sixteen Candles" featuring an outrageous Asian stereotype, Long Duk Dong.
Video 1 - "What's Happening Hot Stuff." Notice the gong sound and how aggressively sexual Long Duk Dong is.
Video 2 - "Long Duk Dong in Tree". Notice how he is potrayed as "a Chinaman" and so odd.

2 - Check out this comic by Adrian Tomine, an Asian-American artist and cartoonist. It is about his anger about Long Duk Dong.

That's it, we're done!