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Towards a transnational aesthetics: Literary displacement and translation as a transnational narrative space

Seonjoo Park, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation explores the literary practices located at the intersection between the national and the transnational, discussing transnational narrative spaces as a type of writing that operates outside the national canon. In The Remains of the Day, the problematic narrative that Ishiguro creates can be analyzed in terms of Bakhtin's notion of parodic stylization. Ishiguro reproduces complete images, languages, and ideological belief systems in Bakhtinian parodic stylization and leads the reader to a conclusion that displaces radically the point of view of the narrator. In The Pickup, Gordimer explores transnational identity within a global setting, gesturing toward some kind of transnational identity that dislocates any stable identity formation and signification system in the framework of the nation-state or "Empire." Gordimer imagines and articulates such a revolutionary transformation, especially focusing on the issue of "relocation." The "in-between" area of translation is interrogated as a space where transnational identity is formed both in Morrison's Beloved and Lee's Native Speaker. In Beloved, Morrison is specifically conscious of the representation of slaves by the Master's language, and her literary attempt to examine the process of this problematic representation can be viewed in terms of a particular type of translation practice: a translation of a political, social, and cultural minority into the language of the majority. Chang-rae Lee's Native Speaker does not narrate the production of a fully constituted national subject, but shifts in perspective from a nationally oriented narrative of immigration to a fragmented, transnational narrative. The particular construction of transnational identity that re-imagines a particular mode of crossing the Asian American identity is made and unmade through the metaphor of "translator." All the novels embody in various literary forms the possible models for a transnational fiction whose agenda is mainly dissidence/negation and nomadic mobility. Such literary attempts for dissidence/negation should be regarded not in terms of a breakdown, but rather in terms of an opening-up of signification with a new permissiveness that affords the opportunity for alternative meanings and relationships.

Subject Area

British and Irish literature|American literature|Literature|African literature

Recommended Citation

Park, Seonjoo, "Towards a transnational aesthetics: Literary displacement and translation as a transnational narrative space" (2006). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3215914.