Recollecting Memory, Reviewing History: Trauma In Asian North American Literature

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Recollecting Memory, Reviewing History: Trauma In Asian North American Literature

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Title: Recollecting Memory, Reviewing History: Trauma In Asian North American Literature
Author: Chen, Guan-Rong
Abstract: My dissertation focuses on representations of traumas in select eight Asian North American novels. I attempt to draw attention to this underrepresented issue of the Asian minority's traumatic experiences. Trauma in my discussion includes double consciousness, national trauma of war, white racism toward the Asian minority, children's perspectives on melancholia and loss, as well as psychosomatic trauma and violence on the female body. In Chapter One, I argue that in Jade Snow Wong's Fifth Chinese Daughter and Fae Myenne Ng’s Bone double consciousness is represented as a racial(ized) trauma that creates an ideological dichotomy between East and West, and constrains the identity of the Asian minority within the two. I propose that a multiple identity of racial minorities with performative possibilities in a nation-state should be taken into account. Chapter Two demonstrates how war causes trauma on the private body and memory of victims in Joy Kogawa's Obasan and Lan Cao's Monkey Bridge. War victims collect traumatic memories inside their bodies and recollect these memories repeatedly as corporeal evidence of political persecutions. Chapter Three discusses children's perspectives on melancholia and loss, and their racial/ethnic identification in Lois-Ann Yamanaka's Blu's Hanging and Wayson Choy's The Jade Peony. Both novels provide comical yet critical accounts about children's experience of losing loved ones, their discovery of sexuality, and their acceptance of racial reality during their maturation into adulthood. Chapter Four explores female trauma and transnational connections in Ruth L. Ozeki's My Year of Meats and Lydia Kwa's This Place Called Absence. In these novels, the trauma of the women characters suggests that the female body should be reconfigured beyond the biological function of reproductivity by the heteronormative standard. With the shared experience of violence, the women characters cross the temporal and spatial boundaries, and reflect global concerns about the autonomy of the female body.
Date: 2008-08-08
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