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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.63, No.2, 219 ~ 239, 2017
A Phenomenology of Haunting: Transgressive Identities, Proxy Memories, and Authorship in Alvin Lu`s The Hell Screens
Haerin Shin
Nicolas Abraham develops the concept of “transgenerational phantoms” to explain the enigmatic phenomenon of alien agencies infringing upon private memories to exert authorship in the form of mental trauma. Historical legacies, particularly in the domain of literary representations, serve as such phantoms that acquire material manifestations through lived locales and somatic experiences of identification. Alvin Lu`s novel The Hell Screens takes this metaphorical phantom a step further to carve out an exquisite portraiture of postcolonial Taiwan, infested with supernatural beings that claim stakes across the Pacific to entice a Chinese American visitor who descends upon the decaying backstreets of the city to collect tales of the strange. Exploring the intricate ties between collective memory and individual identity, and transposing them onto the liminal space of historically burdened present, this essay explores the psycho-social textures of literary haunting as a phenomenology of historical authorship through scholarship on memory and witnessing. Enlisting the concepts of residual haunting and reference points, I claim that the buried secrets of others―Abraham`s notion of the phantom―can emerge from their crypts and become incorporated into the present through a conscious recognition of historical locales as reference points whereby discrete individuals form tangible contacts and resonances.
Key Words
Authorship, Residual Haunting, Reference Point, Memory, The Hell Screens
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