The Queer Future: Re-imagining Community in Queer Asian North American Literature, 1994–present
My dissertation examines how queer Asian diasporic authors reconstruct ideas about race, gender, and sexuality in their literature and its film adaptations. Directly speaking to harassment that Asian men and women have faced since the Coronavirus pandemic, my research has significant relevance in the contemporary world. I argue that queer Asian writers transform various types of oppression into storytelling to survive, and their philosophy of forming communities in literature – the key to establishing a queer future – guides and is guided by their queer activism in the real world. My analysis dialogues with the theories on queer futurity proposed by Lee Edelman and José Esteban Muñoz and claims for a new definition of queer future. Whereas Edelman argues that queer folks find no place in a reproductive future as a continuance of the present that is phobic to queer people, Muñoz asserts that queer individuals should imagine a queer utopia where no one is discriminated against. To join their conversation, I claim that the queer Asian diaspora empowers themselves by telling the stories of those who suffer and reimagining a queer future advocating community building, especially between queer Asians and Asian women. My project, by investigating the transnational and postcolonial experience of queer Asian people, contributes to the research using queer postcolonial critique. I analyze the novels, memoirs, films, and LGBTQA+ activism of Shyam Selvadurai, Meredith Talusan, Ocean Vuong, and Alexander Chee. Their artistic works all investigate how Asian bodies are racialized and sexualized by multiple Western and Japanese colonial and imperial powers. While reinterpreting the oppressive past, the queer Asian literature pictures a future that affirms the value of the lives of people of color and queer folks. In each chapter of literary analysis, therefore, I concentrate on how the queer Asian narrator revisits the family’s history, reappropriates dominant Western and Eastern narratives to invent new storytelling, and envisions a future depending on the collaboration of people of all races.