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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Yan Jiang
Doctor of Philosophy
Title: Homemaking in Asian American Women’s Writing: Chuang Hua, Bharati Mukherjee and Meena Alexander Performing the Diasporic Home
Dr. Katherine Joslin, Chair
Dr. Nicolas Witschi
Dr. Todd Kuchta
Dr. Ying Zeng
Date: Thursday, May 21, 2009 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
2302 Friedmann Hall
This dissertation examines how homemaking, as depicted in contemporary Asian American literature, reflects the bigger issue of Asian diaspora and identity transformation. I analyze how Asian immigrants, especially Asian women, make the home in America in varying ways, seemingly following their ancestral pattern or mainstream American model but eventually transcending both. Following Judith Butler, I suggest that Asian immigrants’ homemaking is performative. In this study, I look to the ideas of cultural identification and identity formation as foundation for contemporary definitions of the diasporic home and contend that far from being static, Asian migrants’ homemaking is actually a dynamic process that comprises continual anxiety in relation to identity performance.
Employing the framework of Butler’s performativity theory, each chapter explores the shifting conceptions of the home in Asian American literature of the latter half of the twentieth century. I examine how authors such as Chuang Hua, Bharati Mukherjee and Meena Alexander, after 1965, represent immigrant homemaking that transcends nationalism for survival and success in the host country. This method demonstrates how performances of the home as depicted by these women writers require a redefinition of diasporic homemaking to include attributes hitherto under-explored in the literature, namely the hybrid and performative feature of the home. Drawing on Asian American studies, diaspora scholarship and Butler’s performativity theory, this dissertation proffers a fresh approach to Asian American texts that dismantles easy connections between homemaking and fixed identities and suggests a significant methodology for analyzing immigrant narratives.