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Cyborg Dreams in Asian American Transnationality: Transgression, Myth, Simulation, Coalition

  • Author(s): Song, Mary
  • Advisor(s): Yamamoto, Traise
  • et al.
Abstract

By deploying a cyberculture theory of cyborg politics in my literary analyses of Asian American literature, I deconstruct Asian American subjectivity through the trope of transnationality. In the Asian American transnational, I locate four prominent traits of Donna Haraway's socialist feminist cyborg: boundary transgression, the recognition and re-scripting of myth, simulations of identity, and coalitions of affinity. By adopting the language of cyberculture, I envision Asian American literature as a technologized textual landscape where narrative becomes virtual narrative such that we draw away from the static nature of a representational politics of identity in order to formulate articulations on a simulational politics of identity. Brian Massumi advocates privileging simulations of identity because unlike representations of identity that cannot move into the realm of the virtual due to being entrenched within a static grid of immobile significations, simulations allow us to imagine mobile concepts like movement, affect and sensation in the discourse of culture and power. Recognizing the Asian American transnational's propensity to transgress boundaries just as readily as the cyborg, I examine the transnational's capacity to recognize, reveal, and contradict hegemonic constructs that sustain the mythology of coherent subjectivity, seamless national identity and the U.S. nation as the democratic ideal. The indeterminate nature of the Asian American transnational limns how the racially-marked Asian American body contradicts, exacerbates and exceeds the circumscriptions of U.S. national identity. In five Korean American novels, I investigate indeterminacy in Korean American narrative and subjectivity such that it demonstrates the Kandice Chuh's suggestion to deconstruct Asian American subjectivities in order to formulate a more subjectless discourse. By deconstructing a particularized identity such as Korean American identity, I deploy my investigation in a language specific enough to make significantly concrete arguments for deconstructing Asian American subjectivity overall. Finally, I demonstrate the efficacy and cogency in formulating a critical language of affect into the discourse of literary scholarship due to my conviction that affect is not only a crucial space where we might imagine an emergent liberatory politics but that affect is also a critical tool where such a politics of movement and change can indeed materialize.

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