This dissertation examines the tropes of boundaries and the fantastic in Asian American, Native American, and fantasy literature, in works by authors ranging from Sherman Alexie and Stephen King to Maxine Hong Kingston and J.K. Rowling. Because both race and the fantastic engage the theme of boundaries, by focusing on the elements of the fantastic in these works of contemporary literature, the theme of race can be brought to the fore as well. The fantastic proves to be particularly valuable in challenging the binary relationship between Self and Other, suggesting new ways to think about the process of identity formation. Furthermore, because of the hesitation and uncertainty inherent in the trope of the fantastic, this same uncertainty is transferred to the discussion of race in these texts, highlighting the way in which many authors simultaneously embrace and reject stereotypical racial fantasies. Additionally, examining the limitations of the fantastic provides another challenge to expected portrayals of race and difference in the way it blurs the line between reader and text and compels the reader to become a more active participant in discussions of race. In this way, reading these works through the lens of the fantastic moves questions of race in popular texts to the center of the discussion, forcing readers to acknowledge the complex, ambiguous, and often contradictory ways in which race is portrayed in contemporary works of fantasy, Asian American, and Native American fiction.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2009. Major: English. Advisor: Dr. David Treuer. 1 computer file (PDF); iv, 275 pages, appendix A.
Miller, Jennifer L..
From water margins to borderlands: boundaries and the fantastic in fantasy, Native American, and Asian American literatures..
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