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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.66, No.1, 107 ~ 130, 2020
Reconfiguring Asian American Identity in Terms of the Post-Racial Aesthetics of Affectivity: A Study on David Hwang’s M. Butterfly
Chang-hee Kim
This paper discusses the decades-long debate over cultural nationalism and feminist pluralism in the literary production of Asian American identity. This part of the paper aims to show how the divided critiques of post-1970 Asian American identity politics indicate the implosive divergence and creolization of what it means to be Asian American in the US, an imperative of post-modernizing ways in which race and sexuality are represented in late-capitalist culture. What is at stake in the identity politics of Asian American literary studies is whether Asian American identily can have affective capacities to exceed the representational limits of social constraints and norms which confine it to the contradictory myths of either the “model minority” or the “Yellow Peril.” Having said that, this paper moves on to examine David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly, focusing on ways in which the protagonists’ racial and sexual subjectivities become transversal, transformative, and subversive of the dominant assumptions about Asian American raciality and sexuality in the US. This study investigates how Hwang’s play bears witness to the ultimate vision of his post-racial aesthetics of Asian American identity―that the ontological embodiments of multicultural subjects are creolized as an assemblage of each body that affects and is affected by other bodies, while they negotiate both nationalist and assimilatory pressures in US society. Consequently, this textual, as well as theatrical, analysis has an objective to explore the affective potential for the Asian American subject to transcend its social and physical limits given in US society, reconfiguring what it means to be American in terms of race, gender, and sexuality.
Key Words
M. Butterfly, Affectivity, Mise En Abyme, Post-Racial Commodity, Asian American Studies
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