Reading the Literatures of Asian America

Reading the Literatures of Asian America

Reading the Literatures of Asian America

Reading the Literatures of Asian America

Synopsis

With the recent proliferation of critically acclaimed literature by Asian American writers, this groundbreaking collection of essays provides a unique resource for students, scholars, and the general reading public. The homogeneity implied by the term "Asian American" is replaced in this volume with the rich diversity of highly disparate peoples. Languages, religions, races and cultural and national backgrounds. Examining a century of Asian American literature from the late 19th century up through the contemporary experimental drama of Ping Chong, the contributors address the work of writers with Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino, East Indian, and Pacific Island ancestry. Asian Canadian and Hawaiian literature are also considered. Author note: Shirley Geok-lin Lim is Professor of Asian Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara.Amy Ling is Associate Professor of English and Director of Asian American Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Excerpt

In the past twenty years, Asian American literature has burgeoned into a recognized body of texts that must be taken seriously as a rich contribution to the pluralistic culture of the contemporary United States. While this body of texts grows steadily, research in Asian American literature is extending historically backwards as scholars uncover and recuperate neglected texts. The traditions of these historically significant texts also include writings in Asian languages, numerous accounts by Asian visitors to the United States, autobiographies by privileged and educated first-generation Asian Americans, work songs by Chinese immigrant laborers, poems by Angel Island detainees, and the writings of Japanese Americans published during their internment in the 1940s.

Simultaneously with the recuperation of overlooked texts is the ongoing interpretation and evaluation of the productions of fiction, poetry, drama, essays, and works in experimental genres by Asian American authors since the 1970s. In the decade since Elaine H. Kim introduced Asian American literature in her ground-breaking book Asian American Literature: An Introduction to the Writings and Social Context (1982), Asian American writers have been extremely productive, often garnering national awards and international recognition. Scholars of Asian American literature have been raising important questions -- concerning immigration history, assimilation and acculturation, the model minority status, stereotypes, gender conflicts, the relations between Asian American and other ethnic texts, and those between Asian American and mainstream American literature-that provide historical and cultural contexts and problematize the entire notion of an Asian American canon.

The term "Asian American" implies a homogeneity of people and of purpose; in fact, it elides highly disparate peoples of different races . . .

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