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date: 18 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the use of realism in Asian American literature and the debate surrounding its political and aesthetic meanings in Asian American literary criticism. Even though realist narratives have dominated Asian American literary history, the use and significance of realism nevertheless continue to stir controversy within the field. The chapter explores both sides of the “realism controversy” within Asian American studies and makes the case that realism exposes the contradictions of Asian American identity and that Asian American identity exposes the contradictions of realism. The chapter concludes with an analysis of Hisaye Yamamoto’s short story “The Legend of Miss Sasagawara” (1950), focusing on how the author deploys a realist mode of narration to reveal the historically contingent process by which Japanese American identity and community in the internment era are constituted.

Keywords: Asian American identity, Hisaye Yamamoto, realism controversy, aesthetics, Japanese American, internment

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