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Encountering spectral traces: ghost narratives in Chinese America and Taiwan

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Title: Encountering spectral traces: ghost narratives in Chinese America and Taiwan
Author(s): Wu, Chia-Rong
Director of Research: Blake, Nancy
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Blake, Nancy
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Xu, Gary; Koshy, Susan; Tierney, Robert T.
Department / Program: Comparative & World Literature
Discipline: Comparative Literature
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): ghost narrative Chinese American literature Taiwanese literature haunting gender politics
Abstract: This dissertation aims to explore different tropes of ghost haunting in the cultural productions from Chinese America and Taiwan. Ghost haunting can be regarded as the supernatural and social embodiments. The spectral representation goes beyond the public perception and reception of the phantom other, thereby delivering the senses of the fearful and the uncanny. Besides, haunting is related to the attachment to and detachment from the earthly world, and the ghostly return conveys complicated contacts and conflicts between the living and the dead. It is also important to note that ghost narratives are associated with the representation of spectral identities in relation to multiple dimensions of history, ethnoscapes, and gender politics. I would bring into focus a close engagement with the current scholarship of ghost storytelling, and provide theoretical reflections on haunting from thinkers like Jacques Derrida, Sigmund Freud, and Avery F. Gordon. Focusing on the two traditions of Chinese ethnic writing from Chinese America and Taiwan, I would like to bridge the gap between the two via the circulating ghost narratives in a global context. Without any question, the two traditions, one written in English and one in Chinese, are different from each other, but still, we can find the similarities between the two if we trace their ghost images back to the classical Chinese ghost storytelling. Herein the original haunting of Chinese narrative serves to stitch together a possible coalition. Additionally, both Chinese American literature and Taiwanese literature can be placed in the category of ‘minor literature’ in the Deleuzian sense. While written in the major languages, both ‘minor’ narratives carry the political concerns and represent the collective mentality of the minority groups in contrast to their cultural Other(s). The first two chapters recount the development of ghost narratives in Chinese American literature. While Maxine Hong Kingston leads the autobiographical narrative and creates a fictional world of ghosts, the following writers like Amy Tan and Shawna Yang Ryan seek alternative ways of narrating the haunting past. From Chapter Three to Chapter Five, the ghost narrative in Taiwan is examined from historical, feminist, and sexual perspectives, thus gesturing profound complexities of haunting in the diasporic, postcolonial, and postmodern contexts. To conclude, ghost narratives in Chinese America and Taiwan can be affiliated with the critical discourses of history, ethnicity, and gender politics. Haunting is thus a cross-cultural phenomenon in mediating the rhetoric of ghost storytelling.
Issue Date: 2010-06-29
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/16537
Rights Information: Copyright 2010 Chia-rong Wu
Date Available in IDEALS: 2010-06-29
2012-06-29
Date Deposited: May 2010
 

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