Modern Minority: Asian American Literature and Everyday Life

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9780199915835: Modern Minority: Asian American Literature and Everyday Life
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Since the late nineteenth century, the concept of everyday life has been the subject of increasing scrutiny. The familiar events, routine actions, and ordinary objects that comprise modernity's daily life have been studied by Georg Simmel, Sigmund Freud, Henri Lefebvre, Michel de Certeau, and others. Informed by this theoretical tradition, Modern Minority argues that Asian American literary realism is defined by a focus on the everyday, which allows Asian Americans to comprehend their minority status and negotiate their historically vexed place in modern American culture.

Yoon Sun Lee's study offers new ways to think about an expansive range of literature. Issues of scale, size, and frequency emerge as the key to reading for the everyday. Questions of animation and of surface also become crucial to thinking about everyday forms. In its first section, novels by Younghill Kang and Carlos Bulosan precede letters and diaries depicting the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Despite their differences, these texts rely on repetition and focus on ordinary objects to overcome as well as to express feelings of meaningless and stagnation wrought by industrialization, racism, and war. Modern Minority's subsequent section features memoirs by Jade Snow Wong and Maxine Hong Kingston, along with fiction by Joy Kogawa, Nora Okja Keller, Ha Jin, Lan Samantha Chang, and others. These works expose the everyday's shifting role in relation to concepts such as ethnic history, self-knowledge, and thingness. The final section traces the everyday as it underpins notions of political modernity and at times undermines a sense of Asian American identity in writing by Chang-rae Lee, Frank Chin, Lois-Ann Yamanaka, and Jhumpa Lahiri.

Marked by attentive close readings and creative juxtapositions, Modern Minority situates Asian American writing not only in relation to ethnicity or nationhood, but within the context of a modern sense of time.

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About the Author:


Yoon Sun Lee is Professor of English at Wellesley College. She is the author of Nationalism and Irony: Burke, Scott, Carlyle.

Review:


"Yoon Lee has produced an ambitious and brilliant conceptualization of Asian American literature. This book models a breakthrough, expansive set of arguments for what ethnic literature can do, what it sees, and what it secretly longs for. Modern Minority is the work of Asian American literary criticism and theory we have been waiting for." --Colleen Lye, University of California, Berkeley


"In her new book, Yoon Lee takes us on a dizzying tour of Asian American texts as she explores the concept of everyday life. Deftly interpolating literature, oral history, and cultural artifacts, the author draws our attention to the power of the ordinary in interpreting modernity." --Greg Robinson, Université du Québec à Montréal


"Yoon Lee's compelling book, Modern Minority, reminds us that modernity's traces reside in 'little things' and 'not much happening': lists, objects, routines, the mundane. Her ability to tease meaning out of Asian American literature's engagement with the banalities of everyday life stands as a testament to the work's telescopic power." --Leslie Bow, University of Wisconsin-Madison


"Theoretically sophisticated and critically astute, Yoon Lee focuses our attention on the narrative techniques and devices whereby Asian American texts register the everyday routines of modernity. In doing so, she opens up exciting new vistas for literary and cultural analysis, and places back on the agenda of cultural theory the question of Asian American realism's critical relation to capitalism." --Mark Chiang, University of Illinois at Chicago


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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2013. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Modern Minority presents a fresh examination of canonical and emergent Asian American literature s relationship to the genre of realism, particularly through its preoccupation with the everyday. Lee argues that it is through the elements of the everyday, which she defines as the quantifiable attention to familiar objects and quasi-statistical repetitions of ordinary acts, that Asian American writers negotiate their vexed relationship to modernity. Lee draws on Lukacs, Jameson, de Certeau, and other cultural critics to show how portraits of the everyday articulate Asian American writers participation in the project of literary realism. The study participates in a new trend in Asian American criticism that sees form as crucial to the construction of minorness. The book covers most of the 20th century and spans a range of Asian ethnic groups and literary styles. Authors examined include Carlos Bulosan, Lan Samantha Chang, Frank Chin, Ha Jin, Younghill Kang, Nora Okja Keller, Maxine Hong Kingston, Joy Kogawa, Chang-rae Lee, Mine Okubo, Monica Sone, Jade Snow Wong, Lois-Ann Yamanaka, Jhumpa Lahiri, Thi Diem Thuy Le, and Toshio Mori. The manuscript contributes a new direction in a field in which the criticism has been preoccupied with the politics of recognition and identity; it will interest scholars in Asian American, ethnic American, and American literary and cultural criticism. Seller Inventory # APC9780199915835

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