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In 2019, Korean American writer Cathy Park Hong published her memoir Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning in the midst of a turning point in Asian American politics. Hong describes minor feelings as “emotions that are negative, dysphoric, and therefore untelegenic, built from the sediments of everyday racial experience and the irritant of having one’s perception of reality constantly questioned or dismissed.” Used as a concept to summate the Asian American experience in white America as living in a country where one’s reality is constantly questioned and made invisible, minor feelings forges an affective framework to study minoritized, diasporic literature.
My project enriches Hong’s “minor feelings” by studying Korean American literature through a transnational and multimedia lens, considering how Korea’s colonial history and nation-building play roles in emoting Korean American self-realities. I structurally model my project after Sianne Ngai’s Ugly Feelings, split into four chapters, each focusing on one affect: shame, anger, han, and love. My project follows and documents the contemporary shifts occurring in Korean Americana, in how they perceive collective racial and diasporic identity, the intersectionality of layered identities, and the younger generations’ call for coalition. Since Korean American affects often are studied as an afterthought to Korean affects, my project retains a focus on the Korean American experience, recentering members of a diaspora whose globalizing homeland’s triumphs may eclipse their minor, invisible realities in America.