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Renaissance City and Revenant Story: The Gothic Tale as Literary Technique in Fiona Cheong's Fictions of Singapore


Fiona Cheong's two novels about Singapore, The Scent of the Gods and Shadow Theatre, should be read as gothic tales of self-writing in which the protagonist emerges as an objective rather than a subjective self. This essay draws on Martin Heidegger and Michel Foucault's discussion of technology and poetics, together with Jacques Rancière's conceptualization of aesthetics, to argue that Cheong's novels are a narrative renovation of an older literary genre (the gothic) for contemporary purposes. Scent's invocation of the gothic spaces complicate the allegorical yoking of family history and nation formation, while Shadow Theatre's polyphonic and gynocentric structure creates an alternative social and narrative space within heroic, patriarchal nationalism. Both novels deploy gothic tropes immanently to critique the postcolonial Singaporean state's neoliberalizing technologies that shape individuals and the entire population as entrepreneurial subjects.

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