Reading Beyond the Diaspora [thesis]

Elisabeth Chavez, Universitätsbibliothek Der FU Berlin
The present study practices 'surface reading' or 'responsible reading' in the analysis of recent fiction by authors of South Asian North American heritage. While the latter half of the 20th century has seen an upsurge in theories and critique that applied a symptomatic reading approach in an attempt to uncover that which is hidden in or repressed by the text, the more recent idea of post-critique returned its focus to what is present in the text. In practice this means a more descriptive
more » ... h that focuses on modes of narration, tropes, and language and most importantly, how all of these affect the reader. However, foregrounding reading experience over discourses of identity, ideology, or ethnicity, as well as gender and class struggles, does not mean the texts are any less political, nor is the analysis merely focused on the aesthetic. Surface reading remains deeply informed by the theories that had dominated the past decades in the fields of literary and cultural studies. But, as the social environment changed from the last decades of modernity that were marked by social movements and minority rights discourses, to a general awareness of the impacts of globalization and the precariousness of the individual in the globalized world, our analytical tools also shifted their focus and approach. The literature coming out of a social struggling for recognition would invite a representative reading and engagement with questions of ideology and hegemony. In contrast, as the present analysis of texts by South Asian North American writers shows, more recent literary productions largely dismiss or foreclose such an interpretative approach. These texts are often intimate stories of very particular situations of specific individuals. My thesis first offers a general introduction on this shift in reading practice and on responsible reading. This is followed by some socio-cultural background on globalization and diaspora, as diasporas are not only a frequent frame within which fiction by authors of ethnic heritage are consi [...]
doi:10.17169/refubium-29596 fatcat:ieem4u4ivvfq7ibu5gm6skuefa