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Invisible Economies: Paranoia and Asian American Literature and Culture

Kim, Swan
Format
Thesis/Dissertation; Online
Author
Kim, Swan
Advisor
Chong, Sylvia
Kinney, Anne
Rody, Caroline
McDowell, Deborah
Abstract
From "Yellow Peril" to "model minority," the competing stereotypes of Asian Americans have always implicated a pathological psychology of the race. Whether it produces sinister aliens or ideal citizens, American anxiety about Asian Americans forms a paranoid dialectic that has yet to be theorized in scholarship. This dissertation expands upon and changes our current understanding of the psychology of Asian American culture by considering literary and cinematic representations of paranoia in the latter half of the twentieth century. While the significance of paranoia in this period is clearly demonstrated by the tension between Asian nations and the United States because of America's wars in Asia and Asian immigration into the U.S., it is perhaps best seen through its literal and metaphorical centrality in texts such as John Frankenheimer's The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Hualing Nieh's Mulberry and Peach: Two Women of China (1988), Wayne Wang's Chan is Missing (1981), and Chang-Rae Lee's Native Speaker (1996). Drawing on the theories of Freud, Lacan, Žižek, Jameson, and Sedgwick, this dissertation explicitly ties together the psychic and political dimensions of Asian American culture by considering the ways in which paranoia contributes to the constitution of national identities as well as to the formation of individual subjectivities. I argue that paranoia embodies the sense of epistemological and ontological anxiety that lies at the heart of the Asian American experience and that its heuristic usefulness also extends to the theorizing of broader issues of race, agency, and knowledge. Paranoia is not only examined in terms of the fear of being controlled by the ii unseen Other and in terms of what lurks behind the visible, but it is also investigated in its capacity to establish structure and coherence, and even as a viable model for theorizing a complex set of political and psychic interactions in American racial culture. By focusing on paranoia as a key trope that mediates among different Asian American literary and cultural discourses, this project offers a comprehensive analysis of the Asian American experience and theorizes an analytical paradigm that reflects the changing nature of Asian American studies. Note: Abstract extracted from PDF text
Language
English
Published
University of Virginia, Department of English, PHD, 2010
Published Date
2010-05-01
Degree
PHD
Collection
Libra ETD Repository
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