The Changing Story of Thingness: From Kogawa and Keller to Ha Jin and Lan Samantha Chang

Yoon Lee

in Modern Minority

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199915835
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199315956 | DOI:
The Changing Story of Thingness: From Kogawa and Keller to Ha Jin and Lan Samantha Chang

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The aspirations of ethnic identity can come into conflict with the spatially unmoored, generic forms of the modern everyday. After the 1970s, Asian American writing reflects a desire for an identity grounded in history. In the literature of identity, everyday things are represented as reified fragments of a forgotten or repressed historical narrative. Thingness is treated as a temporary condition that can be dissolved through unforgetting. The modern everyday, the realm of abstract exchange and consumption, is rejected as an ideological veil. But more recent writers such as Ha Jin and Lan Samantha Chang turn back to the context of capitalist modernity. Their works replace confidence in an ethnic human subject with the uncanny attraction exercised by faceless everyday things. At times, conscious subjectivity even seeks to extinguish itself in the banal routines of modernity’s everyday‐‐ in counting, repeating, or simply noting the banal features of one’s surroundings.

Keywords: thingness; ethnic identity; lan Samantha Chang; Ha Jin; reification; history; counterplot; counting

Chapter.  11621 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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