CFP: Asian American Subgenres, 1853-1941 (10/1/05; journal issue)

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Asian American Subgenres, 1853-1941
Special issue of Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture

This project examines subgenres of Asian American cultural production,
American representations of Asian Americans, and other cultural texts
situated in the “American Pacific” between Commodore Perry’s “opening”
of Japan in 1853 and the changes in both political and aesthetic
context that took place after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Why
was there no dominant genre of Asian American writing before ethnic
autobiography became prominent in the 1940s with works like Bulosan’s
_America is in the Heart_ and Okubo’s _Citizen 13360_? In the century
that preceded the public recognition and generic limits (what Claudia
Tate calls “the protocols of race”) that characterize many post-WWII
ethnic autobiographies and Bildungsromans, what forms of discourse and
culture were available to Asian American authors? Asking such questions
will enable not only the recovery and analysis of relatively unexamined
modes of early Asian American cultural production, but also the
theorization of the political and racial conditions for the emergence
and disappearance of subgenres. To what extent does the prefix
of “subgenre” reflect the experiences of racial subjection, national
subject formation, and the expressive possibilities of the subaltern?

This collection places texts produced by Asians living in, passing
through, or commenting on the U.S. in the broader context of changing
relationships between America and various Asian nations throughout the
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These transnational contexts
lend both historical and geographical specificity to studies that
analyze how imperialism and geographically uneven development influence
the asymmetrical circulation of texts across the contested Pacific.
Proposed topics include, but are not limited to:

Subterranean Archives:
This section will present innovative work on relatively unexamined
archives pertinent to the cultural history of Asian America. Possible
topics include legal records, World Exposition exhibits, political
cartoons, material culture, colonial Hawaiian writings, and picture
brides. Essays on underrepresented groups—such as immigrants (or non-
immigrant commentators) from South Asia or Southeast Asia—would be
especially welcome. Many of these materials exemplify constrained sub-
genres whose expressive limitations bespeak their conditions of exile
or legal repression. Among the questions that this section will pursue
are: what ideological, economic, or demographic conditions hold a
subgenre down? And how can subgenres be read as dialectical critiques
of the ideological and social conditions that determine what counts—or
what succeeds—as a genre?

Multilingual/Multinational Subgenres:
Texts that provide points of intersection between area studies and
Asian American studies by voicing the views and experiences of writers
who merely visited (like Rabindranath Tagore and Yone Noguchi) or areas
(like Hawaii and the Philippines) that were occupied by the U.S.
Studies of relevant "multi-lingual U. S. literature" (native commentary
on American rule in the Philippines, Chinatown newspaper articles,
correspondence relating to diplomacy or foreign policy, etc.) would be
especially welcome.

Can there be genres without (subjugated, subliminal) subgenres? This
section will examine the ways in which dominant, Euro-American cultural
forms like novels, world's fairs, and Imagist poetry cite or mimic
Asian (or Asian American) cultural forms. Why, for example, do Asiatics
appear so frequently-and yet so thinly-in the writings of Naturalists
like Frank Norris and Jack London? What are the political implications
of Sesue Hayakawa's performances in early Hollywood films such De
Mille's _The Cheat_? Contributions should focus comparatively on
Asian/Asian American and Euro-American texts in order to theorize the
ways in which relatively established genres draws on (and
reproduces) "other" texts, discourses, and bodies.

This section examines the various forms taken on by representations of
travel and exoticism in the nineteenth century. Possible topics
include Bayard Taylor’s popular travel writings about China, India, and
Japan, relationships between the Transcendentalists and Eastern
philosophers, Lafcadio Hearn’s turn from regionalist writing in New
Orleans to Gothic storytelling in Japan. How do political and racial
identities—as well as economic necessity—determine these authors’
choices of genre, subject matter, and audience? Do these texts reveal
an international and intercultural circulation of literary influence?

Book Reviews:
If you are interested in reviewing an appropriate book or set of books
for the special issue, please send a brief query and cv.

Please submit 1-2 page proposals with a 1-page CV to Hsuan L. Hsu,
Assistant Professor, Yale University ( by October 1,
2005. Full-length essays of 7,000-8,000 words will be due by May 1,

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Received on Wed Feb 23 2005 - 10:33:19 EST

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