Asian American Subgenres, 1853-1941
Special issue of Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture
This project examines subgenres of Asian American cultural production, American representations of Asian Americans, and other cultural texts situated in the “American Pacific” between Commodore Perry’s “opening” of Japan in 1853 and the changes in both political and aesthetic context that took place after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Why was there no dominant genre of Asian American writing before ethnic autobiography became prominent in the 1940s with works like Bulosan’s America is in the Heart and Okubo’s Citizen 13360? In the century that preceded the public recognition and generic limits (what Claudia Tate calls “the protocols of race”) that characterize many post-WWII ethnic autobiographies and Bildungsromans, what forms of discourse and culture were available to Asian American authors? Asking such questions will enable not only the recovery and analysis of relatively unexamined modes of early Asian American cultural production, but also the theorization of the political and racial conditions for the emergence and disappearance of subgenres. To what extent does the prefix of “subgenre” reflect the experiences of racial subjection, national subject formation, and the expressive possibilities of the subaltern?
This collection places texts produced by Asians living in, passing through, or commenting on the U.S. in the broader context of changing relationships between America and various Asian nations throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These transnational contexts lend both historical and geographical specificity to studies that analyze how imperialism and geographically uneven development influence the asymmetrical circulation of texts across the contested Pacific. For more information see the web address provided below.
Please send a 1-2 page proposal with a 1-page CV to the following e-mail address by 1 October, 2005. Full-length papers of 7,000 to 8,000 words will be due by 1 May 2006.
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