No Name Women Write Back: Silence and Transnational Subjectivity in Asian American Women's Literature



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This thesis focuses on silence wrought and refracted through transnational Asian American gender formation in the works of Maxine Hong Kingston, Rupi Kaur, and Tarfia Faizullah. Experimentation with the genres of memoir and poetry forms a critical feature of these texts, and captures the nuanced forms of articulation each narrator adopts as she grapples with the transnational layers of her subjectivity. For my purposes, “transnational” serves as a geographic, spatial mode that destabilizes the American and Canadian home life Kingston, Kaur, and Faizullah each detail in their writings. As a result, a transnational framework facilitates the discussion of how these texts and their narrators broach lineage and history that traces back to the lands from where their parents emigrated. This meditation on transnationality is symptomatic of each author’s narrative vantage point as a second-generation daughter of Asian immigrants who must navigate gendered disciplinary formations that transpire in domestic spaces yet remain imbued with transnational ruptures and migrations. In my applications of transnational readings, however, my aim is not to denationalize these texts and their narrators from their North American contexts. Rather, I maintain that Kingston, Kaur, and Faizullah write with a Chinese American, Indian Canadian, and Bangladeshi American orientation that in turn fortifies the structures of a transnational silence whose percolation their narrators strive to articulate. In pairing Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior with Rupi Kaur’s Milk & Honey and Tarfia Faizullah’s Seam, this project incorporates South Asian North American authorship within the discourse of Asian American feminist literature. This pan-ethnic conjunction stems from a transnational feminist approach that groups these texts for their potential place these Chinese American, Punjabi Canadian, and Bangladeshi American women writers in conversation about silences exacted through a disciplinary gender formation that implicates transnationality.



English, Asian American Literature, Transnationalism, Transnational Feminism, Women's Literature, Poetry, Poetics, Asian American Feminisms