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Transforming Chinese American Literature

A Study of History, Sexuality, and Ethnicity


Joan Chiung-huei Chang

What is a Chinese American? A Chinese? An American? Or both? Or neither? These seemingly easy questions are hard to answer in terms of history, culture, ethnicity, and literature. In order to provide an answer to these questions, Chinese American writers transform a historical discourse into a historicist one to review history, an intrapersonal discourse into an interpersonal one to redefine autobiography, and a mythological discourse into a mythopoetical one to rewrite mythology, so as to transform an American Orientalist discourse into a Chinese American one for the reading and writing of Chinese American literature. As a consequence, the question «What is a Chinese American?» is transformed into an affirmation of what a Chinese American is.