Author

Hyun-Joo Yoo

Date Approved

2018

Degree Type

Campus Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English Language and Literature

Committee Member

Ian Wojcik-Andrews, PhD.

Committee Member

Annette Wannamaker, PhD.

Abstract

Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese aptly touches on the dual identity crisis of being an American and (or) an Asian through the story of an American-born Chinese named Jin Wang. Jin is a teenage boy who grapples with his bicultural identity and suffers from double consciousness in the American school environment. Even though American Born Chinese serves as an invaluable resource for examining themes such as acceptance, assimilation, diversity, and identity, it should be critically pointed out that the story in American Born Chinese unfolds only from the perspective of a heterosexual, male character. Yang’s story is replete with white, patriarchal values and expectations, such as physical dominance and aggression, toughness, competition, athleticism, heterosexuality, economic achievement, and sexual prowess, and naturalizes the hierarchy between white male masculinity and Asian American male masculinity. That is, Yang’s graphic novel uncritically conforms to and reinforces hegemonic Western versions of masculinity and manhood as the ideal. Thus, in reading American Born Chinese, we should reconsider the very definition of what it means to be “male,” as well as what it means to be “Chinese American” in the U. S.

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