Repetition and Race: Asian American Literature After Multiculturalism (Hardcover)
Repetition and Race explores the literary forms and critical frameworks occasioned by the widespread institutionalization of liberal multiculturalism by turning to the exemplary case of Asian American literature. Whether beheld as "model minorities" or objects of "racist love," Asian Americans have long inhabited the uneasy terrain of institutional embrace that characterizes the official antiracism of our contemporary moment. Repetition and Race argues that Asian American literature registers and responds to this historical context through formal structures of repetition. Forwarding a new, dialectical conception of repetition that draws together progress and return, motion and stasis, agency and subjection, creativity and compulsion, this book reinterprets the political grammar of four forms of repetition central to minority discourse: trauma, pastiche, intertextuality, and self-reflexivity. Working against narratives of multicultural triumph, the book shows how texts by Theresa Cha, Susan Choi, Karen Tei Yamashita, Chang-rae Lee, and Maxine Hong Kingston use structures of repetition to foreground moments of social and aesthetic impasse, suspension, or hesitation rather than instances of reversal or resolution. Reading Asian American texts for the way they allegorize and negotiate, rather than resolve, key tensions animating Asian American culture, Repetition and Race maps both the penetrating reach of liberal multiculturalism's disciplinary formations and an expanded field of cultural politics for minority literature.
Amy Tang is Assistant Professor of English and American Studies at Wesleyan University.