Journal Articles

June 2018 - Vol.48 / No.2
Flexible Culinary Citizenship and Gastronomic Kinship in A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family
Author : Pin-chia Feng
Keywords : Food memoir, Food, Memory, Asian American literature, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family
This article analyzes Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan’s Chinese American food memoir, A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family, to investigate how food, as one of the fundamental material substances of human survival, is linked with illusive memories, and how such a linkage in turn drives the creative energy of the memoirist to record her search for cultural identity and roots while unearthing family secrets. The first part of this article sketches an outline of the emergence of the genre of food memoir in the late twentieth century and then moves on to define the term flexible culinary citizenship to position Tan’s text within the tradition of diasporic food writing; the second part presents a reading of Tan’s epicurean journeys as an act of reconstructing kinship within a transnational context; it concludes with a critique of the possible practice of self-orientalization in Tan’s food memoir.
Whiteness in Another Color: Winnifred Eaton (Onoto Watanna) and Intra-Racial Citizenship
Author : Tan-feng Chang
Keywords : Asian American racial formation, intra-racial citizenship, Japanese American identity, anti-essentialism, early twentieth-century Japanese and US empires
This article explores the global formations of race and politics of Asian American identity through Winnifred Eaton’s Japanese writings. Drawing upon Colleen Lye, Helen Jun, Julia Lee, and Susan Koshy, this article shows how Eaton’s work emblematizes the idea of American citizenship as an “intra-racial”construct by vying various racial subjects against one another for political and economic inclusion. In particularly her Japanese fictions, Eaton represents her Japanese heroines as a desirable subject and an embodiment of the ideal femininity and citizenship. This construction of Japanese superiority was contingent upon Japan’s ascending role as a new power and its competition with European and American empires for dominance in the Asia-Pacific region in the early twentieth century. Eaton’s work builds on global discourses of race and empire to challenge domestic racial violence and exclusion of Asian immigration in the United States. In her argument for Japanese eligibility to citizenship, Eaton posits the Japanese as a superior race, model citizens, and a decolonizing force, which made them appear “whiter” than African Americans, Chinese Americans, and Irish Americans, who were rendered perverse and degenerated in her work. By endowing the Japanese subjects with a new strain of American values, Eaton expands and also counteracts whiteness as the defining feature in shaping American citizenship. Nonetheless, her claim to the superior subject position for the Japanese betrays her complicity with Japanese and American expansionist logics, showing the fact that her articulation of a Japanese American identity is made possible by displacing otherness to another race. Thus, in analyzing citizenship as an intra-racial construct, this article urges for the need to examine the politics behind inclusion as we uncover alternative expressions of belonging and community membership in the United States.
Dancing into Life: Affective Ontogenesis in Philip Roth’s The Human Stain
Author : Shu-yu Lee
Keywords : Philip Roth, The Human Stain, affect, embodiment, ontogenesis
Philip Roth’s 2000 novel, The Human Stain, is widely considered a novel about racial passing. However, such a view assumes that Coleman Silk, a lightskinned African American who lives most of his life as a white Jew, is the sole protagonist of the story at the expense of Zuckerman, who, as the narrator and self-proclaimed author of The Human Stain, is no less important than Coleman to the novel. The novel details how Zuckerman abandons his selfimposed seclusion and becomes reintegrated into human relationships after a spontaneous dance with Coleman. Granting equal importance to Coleman and Zuckerman will reveal that Roth’s concern in the novel is not only the historical phenomenon of racial passing but subjectivation in general. To understand the instances of ontogenesis in The Human Stain, this essay proposes an affective materialist perspective, one that, instead of focusing on the macro-level of social structures, as previous criticism on the novel has done, turns to what can be considered the quantum level of pre-perceptual matter. Such a perspective is provided by affect theory, for which subjectivity is always embodied and subjectivation is galvanized by active, creative matter. This paper argues that the 19-year-old Coleman’s racial passing and Zuckerman’s self-imposed seclusion, based on a mixture of the modern humanist concept of self-invention and the postmodern belief in the body as text, exemplify an idealist conception of ontogenesis that is destined to ossification and sterility. In contrast, the 71-year-old Coleman’s unexpected transformation after meeting Faunia and Zuckerman’s revitalization through the dance with Coleman illustrate that embodied subjectivation through affection is the truly productive ontogenesis, which leads to continual openness and creativity.
England as the Elect Nation in Milton’s Polemical Prose
Author : Hsing-hao Chao
Keywords : elect nation, Israelite paradigm, Milton, national covenant, polemical prose, remnant
This paper examines how Milton employs the idea of England as the elect nation in his polemical prose to engage with specific and immediate polemical contexts. Applying the Israelite paradigm, Milton compares England to biblical Israel, regarding his nation as “the” elect nation in the sense that it is elected by and covenanted with God to play a peculiar role in God’s providential plan. Moreover, Milton also utilizes the notion of the elect nation to serve his polemical interests throughout his prose career. In the early 1640s, Milton believed that England was specially chosen by God to initiate the Reformation and called for a further reformation, urging Parliament to extirpate prelacy, to legalize divorce, and to tolerate unlicensed printing. Furthermore, Milton’s concept of national election is intertwined with the idea of individual election: England is elected to certain privileges, and the English people are also blessed with God’s saving grace. Areopagitica signals the peak of Milton’s complacent confidence in England as the elect nation—a nation of prophets. However, Milton modified his buoyant optimism about the elect status of England with the doctrine of the remnant in around 1650. To justify the regicide, Milton argued that England was elected to establish the first Commonwealth in Europe in three of his antimonarchical tracts. But after that England ceased to play a leading role in God’s plan; England was not “the” but only “an” elect nation. In Milton’s late polemical prose, England was compared to Israel as God’s covenanted nation in the sense that God would not forsake England even though the nation had failed the covenant. Once elected and favored by God but now rebellious and treacherous to God, England, like Israel, needed salvation, and God would redeem the nation through the remnant only when they truly repented.
De/valorization of Platonic Love in Petronius’ Satyricon: Desire, Declamation, and Dominion
Author : Jen-chieh Tsai
Keywords : declamation, rhetoric, Satyricon, Platonic love, the Pergamene boy
To disprove Foucault’s argument that the early Roman empire comes to belittle pederasty and valorize heterosexual marriage, Daniel B. McGlathery points out that this argument has been contextualized within and confined to philosophical and medical works. For instance, regarding texts that do foreground pederasty in the early Roman empire, such as those by Roman novelists Petronius and Apuleius, McGlathery relates that Foucault sees them as being simply odd. In particular, McGlathery analyzes the Pergamene boy’s story in Petronius’ Satyricon to demonstrate that this Roman parody of Platonic love does not devalue pederasty in itself; it exposes instead the hypocrisy of this love. However, McGlathery’s criticism is sustained only if the current text of the novel is all that it was back then when Petronius presented it to his Roman readers. To check such a comment, this paper would like to explore whether pederasty is valorized by juxtaposing the Pergamene boy’s story and the declamation scene in the opening chapter of the present Satyricon. This exploration will proceed based on such juxtaposition—since, if one finds no narrative framework in the novel, it might be valid to resort to the societal structure in which it was written. This structure is the practice of rhetoric, one major signature of the Roman culture and which is prominently figured in the form of declamation in the opening of the novel. In the end, one sees that McGlathery’s facile success against Foucault requires modification. The Satyricon, with its inset declamation scene, implies the need to reconsider homoerotics, which does not necessarily mean to disparage pederastic practice.