The Poetics of Trauma Narratives and Asian American Women Writers
Year of Dissertation:
This dissertation focuses on Japanese American/Canadian and Korean American women writers, such as Monica Sone, Hisaye Yamamoto, Joy Kogawa, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, and Nora Okja Keller. These writers explore, mainly through the mother and daughter relationship, traumatic events that emerge out of transnational histories: the Japanese internment during WWII in the U. S. and Canada, the Japanese occupation of Korea, and the issue of "comfort women" who were drafted and forced into prostitution for the Japanese military during WWII. My dissertation argues that these traumatic events ultimately destroy the object relationships of the Japanese or Korean American subjects, whether the object be a loved person, language, homeland, or ideals of assimilation, by forcing them to acquire a new counterpart as their love object; thus, losing their love objects renders them melancholic and leaves them with indelible psychic wounds. The psychological struggles and wounds of the Asian American subjects get much more complicated as they undergo the psychic contradictions of American assimilation in the country where they now reside as the displaced, dislocated subjects. Paying close attention to the historical specificities of the traumatic events represented by these women writers, I draw on psychoanalysis and trauma studies in order to examine the complex psychological dynamics in which the diasporic mothers and daughters in their works play with their love objects, both lost and newly imposed.