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Transformative Racial Melancholia: Depathologising Identity in Asian American Women's Contemporary Novels

Ho, Hannah Ming Yit (2011) Transformative Racial Melancholia: Depathologising Identity in Asian American Women's Contemporary Novels. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the relatively new literary field of Asian American literature, and highlights the theme of identity in relation to the recent theories regarding racial melancholia. It takes Freudian psychoanalysis as its starting premise to argue for ‘transformative racial melancholia’ in hybridised Asian American subjects for whom a condition of loss is experienced in the combined processes of immigration, assimilation, and racialisation. I examine several novels by contemporary Asian American women and argue that these texts explore both racial and gender melancholia as conditions of loss. However, I suggest, these novels also demonstrate the process of depathologising melancholia within Asian American subjects and the restoration of a healthy psyche. A positive sense of identity within melancholic conditions is elicited when a healthy psyche is established. My thesis interrogates the way a constructive sense of identity is made available through avenues of intersubjective connectivity and social relations provided by the tropes of memory, history, gender performativity, and political agency. In examining and identifying these intergenerational links, I make a case for the subversion of the early concept of melancholia as individual pathology suffered by the solipsistic victim. My argument emphasises the way livability is generated in sharing, writing, and voicing melancholic losses within a larger collective communality. To this end, communication and language feature as key tools though which to convert losses into gains. To surmise, my thesis puts forward my argument regarding transformation within social interconnectivity that aids in making melancholia productive through the intersubjective management of losses.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Depositing User: Dr Hannah Ming Yit Ho
Date Deposited: 24 May 2012 09:46
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:48
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2249

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