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The Discursive Dynamics of Chinese American Life Writing: Pardee Lowe and Jade Snow Wong

Published inAmerikastudien, vol. 51, no. 3, no. 51.3
Publication date2007
Abstract

The very titles of the two Chinese American autobiographies that will provide my points of focus throughout this essay, place in question the subject of the life to be told: Pardee Lowe's Father and Glorious Descendant (1943) and Jade Snow Wong's Fifth Chinese Daughter (1945/1950). Each begins by questioning the relationship between the teller and the told, a relation which really ought, in an autobiography, to be the least problematic aspect of the text. Father and Glorious Descendant and Fifth Chinese Daughter both destabilize the concept of the autobiographical genre as a set of expectations or values, as cultural norms, that assume the existence of the universal or self-identical subject. In these texts, the generic conventions of autobiography have been racialized through the innovative use of narrative point of view. The manipulation of narrative perspective and the disruption of any easy identification of the narrator with the autobiographical subject challenges the interpretive competence of the reader by challenging hegemonic conceptions of "Oriental" and "Chinese" and "American" and "Occidental". This challenge is made through the specific cultural discourses of Orientalism and Occidentalism. Pardee Lowe and Jade Snow Wong change the discursive dynamics of Chinese-American life writing in order to write the dynamic and hybrid lives of Chinese-Americans.

Keywords
  • Chinese-American Literature
  • Autobiography
  • Life writing
  • Autoethnography
  • Interpretation
  • Ethnicity
  • Hybridity
  • Orientalism
  • Occidentalism
  • Pardee Lowe
  • Jade Snow Wong
NoteAmerikastudien, special issue: Asian American Studies in Europe, 51.3 (2007), pp. 343-53.
Citation (ISO format)
MADSEN, Deborah Lea. The Discursive Dynamics of Chinese American Life Writing: Pardee Lowe and Jade Snow Wong. In: Amerikastudien, 2007, vol. 51, n° 3.
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Article (Accepted version)
accessLevelPublic
Identifiers
  • PID : unige:87898
ISSN of the journal0340-2827
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153downloads

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