Journal Articles

December 2012 - Vol.43/No.1
Run through the Jungle: Uncanny Domesticity and the Woman of Shame in Jessica Hagedorn’s Dream Jungle
Author : Shu-ching Chen
Keywords : uncanny, domesticity, jungle, nation-building, intimacy, shame
This paper investigates the uncanniness of the decolonizing projects conducted by the local and global agents in Jessica Hagedorn’s Dream Jungle to accentuate the spectral afterlife of imperialism that haunts the Asia-Pacific in the age of globalization. Linking the uncanniness of the jungle with the formation of the subjugated and subjectivized body of the Filipina, the paper argues that the uncanny projects of nation-building and failed attempts of decolonization mark the beginning of the impoverishment of the Philippines in the restructuring of global capitalism in the 1980s. The outcome of the impoverishment is especially acute for Filipinas, for they are the group that bears the brunt of the economic change in the Philippines. My reading of the text consists of two parts. In the first part I draw upon Amy Kaplan’s conceptualization of “manifest domesticity” and the Freudian concept of the uncanny to examine the Filipino male characters’ nation-building and domestic managements, as well as the neocolonial tendency that belies America’s self-reflection on its overseas expansion in the Asia-Pacific, which I call “uncanny domesticity.” In the second part I trace the lower class female character Rizalina’s life story to analyze the way in which she is biopolitically produced to serve as a provider of sexual and affective labor. I explore the outcome of the process in which her sex and affect are commodified to conceptualize her as a subject of shame and suggest that, despite its excruciating effect, shame has the positive force of motivating the subject to run away from the intimate governance of uncanny domesticity. In this sense, running away destabilizes the power structures at home, while drawing a unique trajectory of global mobility.
On Sophocles’s Philoctetes 1409-44: Heracles ex Machina, Pathos, and Aporia
Author : Yuyen Chang
Keywords : Sophocles, Philoctetes, deus ex machina, Heracles, disease
This paper explores how the theatric convention of deus ex machina adopted in Sophocles’s Philoctetes 1409-44 works. Instead of seeing the epiphany of Heracles as an illogical stop-gap measure, I will analyze how Heracles optimizes his semi-god role to fix the dramatic impasse. At the first glance, the conciliatory function of Heracles ex machina leads to a deceptively happy ending, which indeed prompts a scrupulous analysis of the issues pertaining not only to the intrinsic structure of the play itself but also to the extrinsic social, political and medical circumstances. To reveal the uncommon finale of Sophocles’s Philoctetes and to re-evaluate the strategic application of deus ex machina, I will propose three approaches: first, how the rationale of Heracles’s persuasion is related to the major themes of this play and how the adoption of deus ex machina is conducive to the structural coherence; second, how the epiphany of Heracles stimulates a radical critique of the prevalent sophistry and how the heroic image of Philoctetes is reshaped under the political and ethical contexts of the Greek world in the fifth century BCE; third, how Heracles ex machina showcases the incompleteness of the healthcare system in Sophocles’s contemporary time. Whereas Heracles’s diagnosis and prognosis of Philoctetes’s suppurating foot are highly problematic, the underlying concerns of Philoctetes—such as the inadequate understanding of pathogenesis, the undersupply of doctors, and the shortage of medical recourses—constitute an important subject of reflection for Sophocles’s contemporaries and for us as well.
W. B. Yeats, Cultural Nationalism, and Disempowered Women
Author : Tsung-chi Chang
Keywords : W. B. Yeats, cultural nationalism, Irish women
Irish people have been preoccupied with decoding their national identity, while gender issues are comparatively obscured. It is well-known that nationalism is unfavorable to the development of female identity, yet political nationalism aside, the subordination of Irish women is entangled with the practice of cultural nationalism. This paper aims to discuss the formation and operation of Irish patriarchy by bringing Yeats’s poetry and plays into discussion. Section One is an overview of the role Irish women play amid the always already male-dominated Irish culture. Section Two presents a feminist re-reading of Yeats’s three lyrics, “Easter 1916,” “No Second Troy,” and “A Prayer for My Daughter.” This focus on Yeats’s poetry is followed by Section Three, in which the canonized mythical hero Cuchulain and the demonized female characters in Yeats’s plays like On Baile’s Strand, Caithleen ni Houlihan, as well as The Countess Cathleen are discussed. The final section recapitulates how Irish women are disempowered and disfigured in the works of this wellacclaimed cultural nationalist.
A Search for Home: Displacement in King Lear
Author : Chih-chiao Joseph Yang
Keywords : Bachelard, poetics, space, loci, displacement, King Lear
According to Gaston Bachelard, home, both as a physical and mental shelter for human beings, involves a real space around which the imagination creates further images of warmth and coziness. The theme of displacement from home is pre-eminent in King Lear, and thus the tragedy serves as a striking example of Bachelard’s poetics of space. In King Lear, although castles appear to be shelters for people, Lear can neither possess nor have access to them after he divides his kingdom and bestows all his property on his two elder daughters, who then banish him and keep him away from both them and their castles. Lear’s roaming in the storm ends with his being forced to take refuge in a hovel. Before he reluctantly enters the hovel, contrasting ideas of a comfortable house and of a miserable hut become twisted in Lear’s mind and speech. As he realizes the wretchedness of life in a hovel, Lear’s previous picture of home as an intimate space is challenged and demolished. A cozy home becomes an unattainable place for Lear, and brings forth ever more destructive thoughts. However, whereas to him castles are now fraught with treachery and disaster, the hovel provides Lear with an epiphanic locus where he reaches certain profound realizations. In the hovel, Lear meets and befriends Edgar, disguised as Mad Tom. Leaving the hovel, Lear roams on the heath, which extends his imagination and contemplation. The values of these loci are challenged and remodeled in the play: the supposed sanctuary for Lear now becomes the space of darkness. Because of radical changes in his physical locales, Lear’s mental spaces are disrupted. As with the poetics of space, the play becomes a fruitless journey in which Lear looks for a home, with the possibility that he may just find this before the end.
The Ethical Reconfiguration of the Body in Philip Roth’s Exit Ghost
Author : Chi-min Chang
Keywords : body, Levinas, exit ghost, illness, senility
Nathan Zuckerman is the distinct narrator-protagonist in Philip Roth’s Zuckerman novels, starting from The Ghost Writer (1979). Different from the previous eight novels, Exit Ghost (2007) portrays Zuckerman as an author, ill and senile, coming back to New York, his former writing home. After an 11- year rural seclusion, Zuckerman finds he no longer fits in the technologicallywrapped urban milieu and no longer follows contemporary literary taste. He suffers all the more acutely because, while his desire and will to life are ignited by urban encounters, he no longer possesses the body to enact his passion or intention. The “no-longer” of the body gives rise to a re-configuration of ethical relation in love, in friendship and in writing. Suffering from impotence and incontinence, Zuckerman goes through ethical difficulties marked by the frail body, the inevitable helplessness of old age and sickness. Corresponding to Emmanuel Levinas’s idea of the radical passivity in the face of the other and the embodied ethical subject, the ethical relation in Exit Ghost is worth exploring as it implies a predicament when one finds inescapable corporeal frailty and disability, which present a different ethical edge or possibility. That is, responding to others is one thing, but preserving the sense of selfhood and embodying ethical responsibility is a confrontation with an-other. The reading of Roth’s Exit Ghost is like an extension of the loop of Levinas’s ethics, in which the self ’s passivity and vulnerability are marked by the body that precedes to the responsibility for others.
A Negative Poetics: Desire and Death in the Xiuxiang Jin Ping Mei
Author : Huili Zheng
Keywords : desire, death, individual, negative poetics, Chinese novel
This paper argues that the xiuxiang text of Jin Ping Mei, long eclipsed by the cihua text, should be acknowledged for its status in the history of the Chinese novel. This paper argues that in contrast to the political double vision of family and the state in the cihua text, the xiuxiang text directs our attention to a double vision of desire and death instead, and is consistent with the seventeenth-century Chinese novel concerned with the individual. The negative poetics of desire and death, mapped out on both the moral and allegorical level of the xiuxiang text, provide structural as well as ideological unity. More importantly, the xiuxiang text of Jin Ping Mei presents a negative poetics for the history of the Chinese novel with respect to the conceptualizations and representation of the individual, and marks a significant development in the literati-ization of the Chinese novel.