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Enacting the Silence of Subaltern Women: Julie Otsuka and the Japanese Picture Brides
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Culture and Aesthetics.
2017 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

It is by now a truth universally acknowledged that the world’s subaltern women (in Gayatri Spivak’s understanding of the term) cannot make their voices heard, that what we think we know about them are mostly stereotypes of our own making. It is likewise acknowledged that literature has a privileged status when it comes to representing these women, given its unique prerogative to retrieve their traces and convey their subjectivity through imagining. Literary texts which embark on this task can be seen as symbolic speech acts and, as such, they depend upon their illocutionary force for success in the public sphere.

In this thesis I have chosen to discuss The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka (2011) – a novel I perceive as a collective speech act – from the combined perspective of speech-act criticism (J. L. Austin, S. Petrey), subaltern studies (G. Spivak, G. Pandey) and feminist theory (M. P. Lara, S. Lanser). My analysis explores the interrelation between this little-known story of the first-generation Japanese women immigrants to the US and the sophisticated narrative strategy which sustains it, continually balancing between the women's heterogeneity and their shared experiences, especially their systematic silencing by the dominant population. Finally, the thesis discusses the novel’s larger illocutionary implications for the public sphere, in particular how the reclaiming of the past creates new understandings of the present as well as opens up onto the future.

 

            Keywords: Otsuka, The Buddha in the Attic, migrant literature, picture brides, subalternity, feminist theory, communal voice, speech-act criticism, illocutionary force.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , p. 71
Keywords [en]
Otsuka, migrant literature, picture brides, subalternity, feminist theory, communal voice, speech-act criticism, illocutionary force.
National Category
Languages and Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-144396OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-144396DiVA, id: diva2:1112356
Presentation
2017-06-16, Institutionen för kultur och estetik, konferensrummet, Frescativägen 22B-26, Stockholm, 10:10 (English)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2017-10-02 Created: 2017-06-20 Last updated: 2017-10-02Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
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