Myth Adaptations in Chinese American Literature



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This thesis explores the question: how do Chinese American writers adapt the Chinese traditional myths in their work? The definition of myth used in this study is inclusive, encompassing both stories of supernatural beings and stories of humans. Through a home framework, I examine how Maxine Hong Kingston’s use of the myths of Mulan and Ts’ai Yen in The Woman Warrior shows the dilemma of being a Chinese American female. Through the same framework, I investigate the ways in which Chinese American writers might diverge in their mythological reimagination by looking at different adaptations of one myth: the myth of Sun Wukong. Through a close reading of Kingston’s Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book, Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese, and Ken Liu’s “The Litigation Master and the Monkey King”, I give insights into the ways in which three different writers make faithful or subversive decisions when adapting the essence of Sun Wukong and the effects of these myth adaptations. While Kingston and Yan both discuss Chinese Americans’ identity crisis, Ken Liu addresses a historical topic beyond that recurring theme in other texts: the crimes of the Qing Empire. Additionally, this study examines Liu’s Sci-Fi short story “Good Hunting” which sets in British Hong Kong. Through an analysis of Liu’s portrayal of the hulijing, this study aims to provide insights into issues related to colonialism, environmentalism, and sexism. At last, this study provides the means for future researchers interested in exploring myth adaptations, examining the influence of foreign language story collections on American literature, and even critiquing silkpunk literature.



Myth, Adaptation, Chinese American, Chinese American Literature, Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior, Tripmaster Monkey, Ken Liu, Silkpunk