The Crossroads We Make: Intergenerational Trauma and Reparative Reading in Recent Asian American Memoirs (2018-2022)
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Open Access Thesis
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This project extends reparative reading practices to recent Asian American memoirs, specifically trauma memoirs from the past five years (2018-2022) that detail personal trauma and communal, intergenerational trauma. Reparative reading is explored within five memoirs: Stephanie Foo’s What My Bones Know (2022), Esmé Weijun Wang’s The Collected Schizophrenias (2019), Phuc Tran’s Sigh, Gone (2020), Cathy Park Hong’s Minor Feelings (2020), and Nicole Chung’s All You Can Ever Know (2018). In considering the reparative turn in Asian American memoirs, this thesis draws on and extends Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s reparative frameworks and bell hooks’ theories on pedagogy and love. A critical analysis of self-writings through pre-existing reparative reading models alongside traditional Asian American scholarship on racial melancholia resists the monopolistic dominance of overwhelming negative affects (such as shame, guilt, and anger) that saturate Asian American lives and life-writing. Instead, this alternative interpretative practice exposes how authors seek love, pleasure, and positivity within their texts and within their own lives, while also exploring the methods through which the memoirists themselves embody the reparative in writing and self-analysis. Thus, shaping the reparative turn for Asian America illuminates the productive ways reshaped methods of writing and criticism, and its resultant ethics of living, can push back against lived racial oppression and pain as well as decades of cultural erasure and intergenerational trauma. This varied engagement with love-based and reparative frameworks allows Asian American authors to begin healing from trauma, and this is evidenced through non-traditional psychiatric healing methods, literary methods, and strategies of communal formation.
Asian American Studies Commons, Ethnic Studies Commons, Literature in English, North America, Ethnic and Cultural Minority Commons