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postgraduate thesis: Representing Chineseness: the problem of ethnicity and sexuality in Chinese American female literature

TitleRepresenting Chineseness: the problem of ethnicity and sexuality in Chinese American female literature
Authors
Issue Date2011
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Ng, Y. C. [吳若寧]. (2011). Representing Chineseness : the problem of ethnicity and sexuality in Chinese American female literature. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4775315
AbstractThe potential confrontation of Oriental and Occidental values represents one of the most important topics of scholarship since the twentieth century. Within this debate, American-born Chinese female writers occupy a unique position in their preoccupation with the two seemingly irreconcilable cultures. On the one hand, their Western upbringings entices the distortion of China from an Orientalistic perspective, on the other hand, they find their desire to come to terms with their ethnic cultural heritage to be equally difficult to supplant. It is a dilemma which sparked conflicts even within the Chinese American community, and begs the redefinition of the Chinese American female identity. It is thus, by applying Simone de Beauvoir’s ethical notions about Self/Other relations to the writings of Chinese American female writers, I consider how subjectivity is not substantive but a situated experience of selfhood in movement, and argue that Chinese American female writers may still be internalizing and perpetuating oriental stereotypes in their works, when they too have started re-orienting and hence, re-orientalising China and their Chinese identity. The United States of America is to Chinese American women as alienated at times as China. Under the framework, I further consider the futility of disputing the dual identity of Chinese American female writers to the extent to which identity can be considered as an ambivalent and ambiguous notion that has a temporal element in it. As a writer writes first and foremost about his or her own singular experiences in relation to the world, this thesis tackles the above question by examining how elements of anguish, solitude, and death, as noted by Beauvoir, and that are often present in Chinese American female writers’ accounts of their singular experiences, connect them to others. Through the evocation of such elements to establish the connection between Self and Other, which constitutes the authenticity of self-expression as opposed to suppression of self-assertion, one’s struggle with separation and one’s own truth is represented. In this sense, it is not, the ultimate result or triumph of an individual’s struggle with unity or individuality that matters; but rather, the process of self-struggle that corresponds to the dignified human existence within Beauvoir’s philosophical framework. The three elements of situation anguish, death and solitude are dealt with in this project in the following context: in Chapter Two, Ann Mah’s anguish over Chinese and American food is examined in connotation to the relations of herself with others around her that coerces her to reflect upon her ethnic and cultural affiliations. In Chapter Three, death is explored through the discussion of the footbinding notion in which the death of the foot signifies the end of docile acceptance as well as the beginning of transformations. Solitude is elucidated in Chapter Four through Maxine Hong Kingston’s warrior woman conceptualization that adopts and later re-orientalises silence. In all three situations, I pay attention to the way re-orientalisation is achieved in the Chinese American female project of selfhood in movement towards the Other.
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
SubjectChinese American women - Ethnic identity
Chinese American authors - Ethnic identity.
American literature - Chinese American authors - Ethnic identity.
Dept/ProgramChinese

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorNg, Yor-ling, Carly.-
dc.contributor.author吳若寧.-
dc.date.issued2011-
dc.identifier.citationNg, Y. C. [吳若寧]. (2011). Representing Chineseness : the problem of ethnicity and sexuality in Chinese American female literature. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4775315-
dc.description.abstractThe potential confrontation of Oriental and Occidental values represents one of the most important topics of scholarship since the twentieth century. Within this debate, American-born Chinese female writers occupy a unique position in their preoccupation with the two seemingly irreconcilable cultures. On the one hand, their Western upbringings entices the distortion of China from an Orientalistic perspective, on the other hand, they find their desire to come to terms with their ethnic cultural heritage to be equally difficult to supplant. It is a dilemma which sparked conflicts even within the Chinese American community, and begs the redefinition of the Chinese American female identity. It is thus, by applying Simone de Beauvoir’s ethical notions about Self/Other relations to the writings of Chinese American female writers, I consider how subjectivity is not substantive but a situated experience of selfhood in movement, and argue that Chinese American female writers may still be internalizing and perpetuating oriental stereotypes in their works, when they too have started re-orienting and hence, re-orientalising China and their Chinese identity. The United States of America is to Chinese American women as alienated at times as China. Under the framework, I further consider the futility of disputing the dual identity of Chinese American female writers to the extent to which identity can be considered as an ambivalent and ambiguous notion that has a temporal element in it. As a writer writes first and foremost about his or her own singular experiences in relation to the world, this thesis tackles the above question by examining how elements of anguish, solitude, and death, as noted by Beauvoir, and that are often present in Chinese American female writers’ accounts of their singular experiences, connect them to others. Through the evocation of such elements to establish the connection between Self and Other, which constitutes the authenticity of self-expression as opposed to suppression of self-assertion, one’s struggle with separation and one’s own truth is represented. In this sense, it is not, the ultimate result or triumph of an individual’s struggle with unity or individuality that matters; but rather, the process of self-struggle that corresponds to the dignified human existence within Beauvoir’s philosophical framework. The three elements of situation anguish, death and solitude are dealt with in this project in the following context: in Chapter Two, Ann Mah’s anguish over Chinese and American food is examined in connotation to the relations of herself with others around her that coerces her to reflect upon her ethnic and cultural affiliations. In Chapter Three, death is explored through the discussion of the footbinding notion in which the death of the foot signifies the end of docile acceptance as well as the beginning of transformations. Solitude is elucidated in Chapter Four through Maxine Hong Kingston’s warrior woman conceptualization that adopts and later re-orientalises silence. In all three situations, I pay attention to the way re-orientalisation is achieved in the Chinese American female project of selfhood in movement towards the Other.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B47753158-
dc.subject.lcshChinese American women - Ethnic identity-
dc.subject.lcshChinese American authors - Ethnic identity.-
dc.subject.lcshAmerican literature - Chinese American authors - Ethnic identity.-
dc.titleRepresenting Chineseness: the problem of ethnicity and sexuality in Chinese American female literature-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb4775315-
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelMaster-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineChinese-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b4775315-
dc.date.hkucongregation2012-

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