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The Semblance of IdentityAesthetic Mediation in Asian American Literature$
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Christopher Lee

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780804778701

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804778701.001.0001

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Form Giving and the Remains of Identity In A Gesture Life

Form Giving and the Remains of Identity In A Gesture Life

Chapter:
(p.98) Four Form Giving and the Remains of Identity In A Gesture Life
Source:
The Semblance of Identity
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804778701.003.0005

Toward a Global Idea of Race, a book by Denise Ferreira da Silva, talks about the integral role of race in post-Enlightenment formulations of subjectivity that are centered around an ontological figure that Silva calls the “transparent I.” It also tackles globality based on Roland Robertson's notion of globality as the production of collective identities through interactions among various societies. This chapter examines Silva's account of globality to assess the dangers of the transparent I and its manifestations as the idealized critical subject. It also considers how the realist claims that underscore A Gesture Life (1999), a novel by Korean American author Chang-rae Lee, depend on a sublimated investment in identity politics despite its deconstruction of identitarian categories. The chapter first looks at the status of the realist novel in Asian American literature before turning to one of the basic analytical distinctions in literary criticism, namely between form and content. It concludes by suggesting how the novel's treatment of globality might inform Silva's urgent call for alternatives to transparency and its violent consequences.

Keywords:   globality, Denise Ferreira da Silva, transparent I, idealized critical subject, identity politics, Asian American literature, A Gesture Life, Chang-rae Lee, content, form

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