Date of Award

9-14-2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Lingyan Yang, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Karen Dandurand, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Ron R. Emerick, Ph.D.

Abstract

In my dissertation, I explore the issues of sexual politics in the works of three Chinese American women writers, Sui Sin Far, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Amy Tan. I demonstrate how these writers reconstruct Chinese American women’s self-consciousness through their demand for freedom from the sexual oppressions of patriarchy of both American and Chinese cultures and their resistance against racial domination and their demand for power both as females and as Asian American women. I also explore how the issues of the mother-daughter relations are intertwined with those of gender, race, and class, how Kingston presents the history of “feminization” of Chinese American men and how she reconstructs their racial/gender identities, and how Far and Kingston problematize the definition of gender and race. I critique the practice of male-female oppositions and explore the possibility of gender/race deconstruction in Asian American literature. I arrange my chapters by means of topic issues, and deal with them by examining four texts—Far's Mrs. Spring Fragrance, Kingston's The Woman Warrior and China Men, and Tan's The Joy Luck Club. I rely mainly on two theoretical frameworks—theories on gender and race. First, the racial/sexual theories of Asian American critics such as Lisa Lowe and David Eng are used to demonstrate the necessity of intertwining gender with race in the studies of Asian American literature. The theories of Edward W. Said concerning Orientalism are also used to explore the issues of racial stereotypes of Chinese immigrants/Chinese Americans and their struggle against racial domination. Second, Western feminist theories of Simone de Beavoir and Kate Millett and Asian American feminist theories of King-Kok Cheung and Elaine Kim are used to deal with the issues of Chinese American women and their demand for freedom from sexual oppression and for their rights as both Asian Americans and as women. Third, Judith Butler's theory on gender is used to demonstrate the efforts that Asian American women writers such as Kingston and Far have made to problematize the gender definition and gender division in their works.

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