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Radical Relationality: Genre and Affect in Asian American Historical Fiction of the Long Sixties


This dissertation argues that Asian American historical fiction of the Long Sixties does not merely depict the living and lived realities of immigrant lives, but also performs the social transformation sought by the activist groups that first articulated Asian American identity. Drawing on the founding documents of the Asian American Political Alliance (AAPA) at UC Berkeley, the first group to advance the collective identity category of “Asian American” and to define Asian America as a flexible “sliding structure,” my dissertation shows that the “sliding structure” is, and always has been, the means by which radicalism is expressed in Asian American literature. My analysis builds upon new formalism to demonstrate that “sliding” between narrative tropes and affective registers allows Asian American historical novelists of the Long Sixties to capture and critique the array of global conditions and national cultures that gave rise to Asian America.

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